It's Now or Never for the PTO

We are in the thick of triathlon season in North America. One doesn't have to go far here on Slowtwitch to see that -- on average, we've had three race reports from Timothy Carlson every weekend for the last eight weeks. Our forum is abuzz with the classic questions, including the all important "what is the water temperature" for this weekend's IRONMAN Lake Placid.

It would be easy, then, to have missed news from the Professional Triathlete's Organisation (PTO) this past week in the build-up to the first PTO Tour event, the Canadian Open. But if you are a fan of professional triathlon, this is arguably the most important news since IRONMAN announcing revised qualification standards for World Championship events. Long-course triathlon is now a true broadcast sport -- the PTO inked deals with Eurosport, ESPN, the CBC and others for true live broadcasting of this weekend's Canadian Open. This is also in conjunction with deals with Global Cycling Network (GCN), and the official launch of the PTO+ online streaming platform.

This is the kind of investment that long-time fans of the sport have been calling for, and cynics (admittedly, myself) thought would never come. This isn't a small potatoes, put on a cable tier where nobody can see it kind of broadcasting arrangement. This is the big time and arguably the highest water mark for long-course triathlon broadcasting since the Wide World of Sports days.

The PTO has done its part -- to borrow the phrase from Field of Dreams: they have built it. Now, will people come?

I certainly hope so. You only get so many chances to try something on this scale. We saw fantastic broadcasting with Challenge Daytona and their support from NBC/NASCAR, and we've also seen significant declines in audience sizes as they've attempted to scale with new events. IRONMAN continues to utilize Facebook as their primary broadcasting partner, with NBC (World Championships) and Outside TV (selected 70.3 events) providing additional support. A failure from the PTO and the broadcasts here pushes us backwards.

As a fan of the sport, I'll be tuning in tomorrow. I hope you will, too.