Bike Channel CEO: “UK will become worldwide HQ and online strategy due at Eurobike”

Filippo Ubaldini, the CEO of the Bike Channel has today told CyclingIndustry.News that the UK has not only become his home, but will now play home to the worldwide headquarters.

Now seven months on from going live in the UK on Sky, Virgin and Freesat and with a recent acquisition of the rights to September’s Tour of Britain, Ubaldini says that the learning curve has been similar to the launch in his native Italy where the channel now has the largest market share for cycling in terms of television turnover and share.

“I find the UK to have a more mature audience with a more attentive consumer. It’s stimulating from a business point of view to have such an engaged and balanced demographic. Typically, those tuning in are between 35 and 44, with disposable spend and, encouragingly, around 30% of them are female cyclists too.”

Having hired in a team of eight staff, as well as some outsourced help, Ubaldini says the UK arm is growing quickly. While small compared to the 40-strong team managing the Italian region for the past five years, Bike Channel’s UK arm has become a “priority”. However, we’re told other key European and US markets may eventually have a channel of their own.

“In Somerset, where I live, I’ve been keen to get out on club rides to learn more about the UK cyclist,” said Ubaldini. “It has been the correct approach as it has re-affirmed my decision that our offering must be produced by those with local market knowledge for those in the UK. It’s key that we create entertainment that is inspirational, but achievable. Aspirational content I find may alienate the audience and so we’re investing in things like our Coach reality TV show. This has two cyclists who themselves are just like you and I, still with plenty to learn and faced with developing their own skillsets in a way achievable by the couple sat on the sofa. That’s key to, I want our audience to be able to co-view at home, whereby a household can engage with the show and plan their own adventures.”

Said to draw between 130,000 and 140,000 viewers throughout the day, the television platform has proved an attractive draw for the industry too, with UK distributor i-Ride having paid to be an exclusive content sponsor of the Coach show, meaning you’ll spot only Orro bikes under the riders, among other products.

With Eurobike just around the corner, Ubaldini teases that the show will be the launch platform for the 2017 schedule, as well as the brand’s online strategy, something set to be ramped up.

“We won’t stop in our quest for rights acquisitions to events,” he concludes. “At present we’ve 75 days worth of live racing spanning Flanders, Gent, Romandie, Crankworx and countless others. We even plan to introduce a lifestyle show revolving around electric mountain bikes shortly, so check in at Eurobike if you want to hear more about our 2017 plans.”