Sunday, June 12, 2011

Le Mans livestream review

Another 24 Hours of Le Mans is in the books, and from a U.S. based fan's point of view, the Europeans have some things to work on if they are going to compete with the ALMS. Readers of this blog may remember last year I "watched" most of the ALMS season with a combination of Radio Le Mans, Live Timing and Scoring, and Twitter. This year's race in France was a somewhat similar experience. Once again, the radio and scoring sheet were the best sources of information.

Peugeot-Sport had the best livestream for several reasons. Unlike the Audi's, all three of their cars with in-car cameras finished the race. The two Audi crashes not only left them with one car, but one camera.

Peugeot also broke into TV coverage from time to time. I imagine their being a French team in a French race covered by French TV had something to do with that. Perhaps when the series moves to Nurburgring in two weeks, the Audi's will have the advantage.

Peugeot also had several cameras in the pits and a four person on-camera team. Although I don't understand a word of French, it was interesting to hear it spoken by natural speakers. It is indeed a beautiful language. Every so often, one of the commentators would give an English translation, but I eventually dropped the audio on their feed and boosted Radio Le Mans to find out what was happening. Maybe subtitles are the answer.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the Peugeot feed also had an embed function, which allowed this little blogger to carry the race. Thanks for all the hits, guys!

The Audi livestream was plagued with unstable video. The constant break-ups and freeze frames got pretty tiresome. The poor quality also adversely affected the telemetry they were showing. The promised race recap every two hours never materialized. At least, I never saw one.

The two three hour long livestreams by Speed-TV were about what I expected. Speed-TV really hasn't changed much over the years. Some day, the suits in charge there will realize they can show commercials on the web just as easily as they can on TV. With so many cable companies offering hi-speed internet, it's only a matter of time before viewers are given a choice. Watching their feed only served to point out the wisdom of the ALMS switching to

The Live Timing and Scoring page, provided by Le Mans Org., was essential in keeping track of the teams. Features I missed were columns for Time Behind Position and Time Behind Class Leader. Rather than just showing the laps behind the over-all leader, these two features allow the viewer to determine who is catching up or falling behind. One gets a better sense of how the race is progressing than a simple lap count provides.

As for the race, it lived up to it's tradition. The mainline media will no doubt fixate on the crashes, but for the rest of us, it was 24 hours of drama. Thanks to Radio Le Mans, still the best source on the web for the European leagues.

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