T100 Triathlon World Tour: Where the PTO succeeded, and failed, with Miami TV broadcast

Our synopsis of the highs and lows from the race coverage at the Miami T100.

Staff Reporter
Last updated -

When Executive Chairman Chris Kermode announced in January that the PTO would produce “one of the biggest sports entertainment products in the world” with the T100 Tour, he set the bar incredibly high for Saturday’s season opener in Miami.

If swim/bike/run is to transition from very niche sport to what Kermode imagines, the PTO and its vision must succeed. The sport needs it, the athletes need it, we all need it.

As the dust settles on the first race of the series, it is time to ask whether the TV broadcast provided on Saturday matched the terrific racing on course. And whether it matched the lofty expectations set by Kermode back in January.

We examine what went right, and what went wrong, during the race by breaking down the viewing experience on Saturday and suggesting areas for improvement at Singapore T100 next month.

The commentators

One thing the PTO did get right on Saturday was its commentary lineup, with the quartet of Rick Allen, Jan Frodeno, Mirinda Carfrae and Jack Kelly doing an excellent job covering both races.

Allen, who typically commentates on NASCAR and other American sports, complemented the triathlon knowledge of Carfrae and Frodeno well throughout the broadcast, as the team provided a ton of engaging insights into both the event and the sport.

Jan Frodeno PTO Tour US Open 2023 Milwaukee
Jan Frodeno won the PTO Tour US Open in Milwaukee last year (Photo – PTO).

The recently retired Frodeno was as flawless in the booth as he had been on course during his stellar racing career, with the German’s excitement throughout the day injecting energy into what had in the past been a broadcast product prone to monotony and repetition.


On-screen graphics

One thing which must be addressed before the next stop on the tour is the number of on-screen metrics provided during the race. In Miami, fans were often left guessing where half of the field was, and crucially the remaining distance to the finish.

On a multi-lap course these metrics are especially essential, as there were a number of times during the bike leg where it was impossible to distinguish between lapped athletes and the chase pack.

Whilst the swim was the easiest to follow, there was still a lack of information about how far back athletes who didn’t make the front pack were. Without the commentary, anyone tuning in might have imagined there were only 10 athletes in the race. When graphics are made available, they also need to be more clearly visible. Make it easy for the viewer.

In Singapore and beyond, it needs to be made clear how far there is to go until the end of the swim, bike or run, plus the position of every athlete at any given time. Considering that in each race there are only 20 starters, tracking their positions should be made much simpler.

The use (or not) of on-screen graphics came into focus very early in the broadcast, at least that is the way it appeared. The commentary team appeared to be expecting a graphic but nothing arrived, and the shot just remained fixed on them. First impressions last, and the first impression given was the opposite of slick.

The sound

Such was the quality of the commentary that it was a real shame when the audio was lost for close to an hour during the second race, with viewers watching on YouTube left to their own devices as the women completed the bike leg.

Triathlon may well present logistical challenges from a broadcast perspective which differ from other major sports, but ask yourself this. When did this last happen during a major football match, an NFL game, an F1 race, a tennis Grand Slam?

Whether the PTO likes it or not, this is the prism through which it must be viewed and analysed. Comparisons to other major sports means the bar is set incredibly high. After three years it is time to start hitting that bar on a regular basis. Simply not good enough.

The course

Whilst there is no doubt that the Miami Homestead Speedway is an iconic race venue for NASCAR racing, the same cannot be said for triathlon events, especially over the 100km distance.

Magnus Ditlev overtakes Alistair Brownlee at the Miami T100.
Magnus Ditlev and Alistair Brownlee in action during Saturday’s men’s race in Miami [Photo Credit – PTO]

For the minimal amount of spectators on the ground, it’s hard to say if the chance to see the athletes go by multiple times made up for the dreary lack of variety on the bike and run course. For the viewers at home, the course offered no excitement at all.

A multi-lap format in an enclosed venue is a brilliant way to host participation focused triathlons, and there is no doubt that the Miami Homestead Speedway venue lends itself to efficient and effective race organisation. But for the PTO, who are aiming to make the race an engaging entertainment product that sells the sport to new audiences it was sadly lacking.

The question really boils down to whether or not it is worth sacrificing ‘iconic’ cities with limited capacity for exciting courses, in exchange for more interesting locations – such as St.George or Nice – as the Tour unfolds. We look forward to seeing what the PTO can do with the iconic Escape From Alcatraz course, which we have high hopes will be able to deliver on both accounts.

Lights Out

During the women’s race, one particularly disappointing feature of the broadcast was the fact a lack of light during the bike and run made it almost impossible to follow the action on the darker sections of the speedway.

As well as potentially being a health and safety issue, the apparent lack of planning and foresight for a race series billed to be redefining triathlon was disappointing. Of all the issues on Saturday, this one may hurt the PTO’s reputation the most.

In a sport which is meant to be at the forefront of gender equality, not shining a literal and metaphorical spotlight on the incredible performances of the women’s field appeared completely unbefitting.

India Lee was in disbelief after crossing the finish line in Miami.
India Lee was a brilliant winner of the women’s race in Miami on Saturday [Photo Credit – PTO]

The Verdict

Back in 2021 we wrote a piece similar to this after the inaugural Collins Cup in Samorin. It was hailed as a watershed moment for the sport – the PTO’s first really big day out with the dawn of its new flagship event. There were things to be improved on then from a broadcast perspective, unsurprisingly.

What we did not expect is that almost three years on, many of the same challenges remain, along with a few new ones. Our frustration, and that of many triathlon fans, comes from the desire for this to succeed. Constructive rather than destructive.

We are now 31 months on from Samorin 2021, and the need to pen a similar piece is concerning. Remember that we did not set the bar incredibly high, the PTO did that. It is our role merely to give an honest reprise of what we see, and hold the coverage to account.

Once again it is not all negative – as we have pointed out – but some of the issues on Saturday were either what appear to be broadcast basics, or an apparent lack of planning. In theory, isn’t this the easy bit?

Next month in Singapore, we hope things are better. With a brilliant commentary team, one of the hardest parts is already nailed down, but as for the rest of the package, there is much work still to do.

Having reached out to the PTO for reaction they provided the following official statement:

“Whilst we thought the TV presenters, commentators and especially the athletes put on a great show at the first T100 race in Miami, there were some unforeseen challenges that led to some elements of the broadcast falling below the standards which we’ve set ourselves. We appreciate this will have been frustrating for fans and we are working hard to address them at upcoming stages of the T100 Triathlon World Tour.” – PTO Spokesperson

Tomos Land
Written by
Tomos Land
Tomos Land is a triathlon & running journalist whose expertise lies in the professional world of short course & long distance triathlon, though he also boasts an extensive knowledge of ultra-running.


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