Watching the wheels: Filmedia enjoys success with new Bike Channel in Italy

Established with the objective of generating a new conversation and excitement around cycling, the Bike Channel is owned and operated by Filmedia, a Filippo Mori Ubaldini company. Among those supporting and/or participating in the channel are a number of professional riders and former Rai commentators, including Paolo Savoldelli, Marco Saligari, Mirko Celestino, Massimo Boglia and Gianluca Giardini.

“The channel was founded in 2012 by the idea of some friends of cycling. The idea was to create a totally new channel dedicated to cycling. It has become a challenge to the market that, until then, had moved out of traditional paths,” says Filippo Ubaldini, CEO of Filmedia, the editing company. “We wanted to create a strong community of cycling enthusiasts.”

Bike Channel can be found on channel 214 of the Sky sat platform in Italy, and covers all aspects of the sport. The channel’s success can be shown by the fact that more people are being brought into the sport, while Filmedia is also exporting the project to other European countries, beginning with the UK.

“The Bike Channel team is a very lean team,” adds Ubaldini. “In addition to the editor and management, the group consists of four key areas: programming and acquisitions; production (with more than 200 hours per year of production only in Italian); marketing and research, which includes the digital part and the activities on the territory; and sales force. To this team we add our ambassadors and the “faces” of the channel for Italy, which include Paolo Savoldelli and Filippa Lagerback. Bike UK, however, [also include] a commercial team that is growing very quickly. All other areas are managed in synergy with the Italian team and a select group of UK employees who joined us for productions and at other key stages. Meanwhile, in the UK we are building a network of ambassadors, with figures like Ned Boulting and Mike Cotty.”

Community feel

Bike Channel is a community – a real hub that includes TV, digital, social and local territory activities. Investors are partners who have found the right environment to talk about the excellence of Italian industry to the world, with innovative solutions encompassing everything from branded content to total sponsorships.

Ubaldini continues: “Sky is our partner for excellence, both in Italy, with an exclusive agreement, and in England, and [this has] helped us become a reference for quality of vision. Today we broadcast in HD and this means being able to deliver to those who follow us and our partner clients a unique quality.”

The programme schedule includes several live exclusive events, from Classic Flanders (Gent-Wevelgem, Scheldeprijs etc.) to the Tour de Romandie, Tour de Suisse, Tour of Utah, Tour of California, Vuelta Burgos and Tour of Britain, to name just a few.

The channel also gives coverage to other related disciplines, such as as the Cyclocross, Triathlon, UCI and the world of mountain biking. For example, in 2016 the channel created Mtb circuit races (Bike SuperSix), which include six events in Tuscany and Umbria. Then there are other special initiatives including ‘Great Climb’ and cycle tourism programmes.

Ubaldini adds: “At Bike Channel we are also making efforts [with regard to] documenting the world of events on the Italian territory. In most cases we are present with Troupes, branded trucks, since we believe in having direct presence on the territory. The same programming model is growing in the UK, too, although totally reinterpreted and with its own codes of UK cycling.”

Ratings on the rise

With regard to the viewership of the channel, Ubaldini notes: “The ratings are in line with the positive trend of other channels [on] the satellite platform – with peaks that, during live broadcasts, lead us to share [our evaluations] on a national basis. Taking into account the unique and special nature of our TV proposal, our ratings are very high. We want to grow more and more through acquisitions that will be addressed within international [frameworks] and reinforce some of [the most popular aspects of the sport, such as] tour cycling. [With regard to this] we are activating important partnerships, such as with the Italian Touring Club, with whom we are already producing quality content dedicated to trips by bike.”

Final word to Mario Cavallini, post and editing manager, who remarks of the channel’s production infrastructure: “We have three editors and two graphics operators engaged in four networked suites, working on Adobe Premiere for both editing and graphics. All workflow is in HD. We get the image files from a dedicated internal FTP, or WeTransfer. Mostly the programs commissioned to external services reach us completed, and we only have to add graphics and the audio comment. Our post work is generally done on promos, highlights, station breaks and [suchlike], while audio commentary is added externally through a partner company located in Milan. The material arrives here in several formats so we have to apply the [required] conversion, while final delivery is in MXF OP1a.”

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