Netflix are close to agreeing a deal to film a Formula 1: Drive to Survive-style, behind-the-scenes docuseries at this summer’s Tour de France.
Discussions are ongoing between the streaming giant, Tour promoters ASO and eight WorldTour teams including Ineos Grenadiers, Telegraph Sport understands. It is hoped a deal can be agreed in the next few weeks.
Should any of the eight decline to be involved, the offer will be extended to the next team on Netflix’s wishlist, and so on.
It is understood that Box to Box Films, producers of the wildly successful Formula 1: Drive to Survive series, have been lined up to make the series. The fourth series of Drive to Survive is set to drop on Netflix on March 11.
Box to Box are also busy producing a fly-on-the-wall series about the ATP Tour.
A docu-series about the sport’s biggest race has long been rumoured. Indeed some teams have already made their own to critical acclaim. Netflix made a six-part series documenting Spanish team Movistar’s trials and tribulations in the 2019 season and followed that up with another following them around in 2020, while Jumbo-Visma made Code Yellow with Dutch broadcaster NOS in the same year, shedding new light on the thrilling denouement to that season’s Tour, when their Slovenian Primoz Roglic was usurped at the death by his countryman Tadej Pogacar.
Jumbo followed that up with another documentary, Plan B, the following year and are believed to have struck a deal with Amazon to be the subjects of their successful All or Nothing documentary series, which is likely to be worth a seven-figure sum to them.
The one sticking point over this attempt to do a larger-scale series involving multiple World Tour teams is believed to be the financial remuneration for the teams themselves.
Netflix would likely have to pay French television broadcasters a bit, as they would be encroaching on their rights. And it is understood the streaming giant is offering to pay a nominal amount to the eight teams, which includes all the big hitters such as Ineos, Jumbo-Visma, Movistar and Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team.
Teams would ideally like a slice of the television revenues, which are likely to be boosted in the long term if Drive to Survive is anything to go by. But they are also cognisant of the fact that the sport as a whole will benefit significantly from the exposure that such a series would bring.
ASO have not returned a request to comment, but one source described the project as a “no-brainer” adding that the teams are “close” to signing off on it.
The Grand Tour could become more powerful but a deal with Netflix is a win-win
Professional cycling is made for a fly-on-the-wall documentary series. While we get to see the pain etched on riders’ faces at the end of a brutal grand tour stage, we are rarely allowed inside the hallowed sanctuary of the team bus, beyond a few team-approved images or videos.
Watching the fallout from a controversial stage, a tactical masterclass by a particular team or rider – and, crucially, from multiple perspectives – will provide a fascinating insight that fans will undoubtedly lap up.
The raw exhaustion, misery, anger, elation and frustration. The arguments. The deals hatched and broken. There are all the ingredients for it to be a smash hit.
It will also introduce the sport and its colourful array of characters to a much wider audience, much as Formula 1’s Drive to Survive has sucked in thousands of casual fans who knew nothing about Max Verstappen or hybrid engines, but are now hooked on the musings of Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner.
While there will be valid concerns that limiting the series to the Tour de France will only serve to make cycling’s biggest race, and its promoter ASO, even more powerful, the likelihood is if the series is a success, which it should be given the ingredients, it can then be expanded to a season-long documentary, which would be a seismic breakthrough for the sport, introducing those same casual fans to the two other grand tours, the spring classics and the lesser-known one-day and stage races. It’s a win-win, which is why the teams will surely sign off on it.