OPINION: Gymnastics Deserves a Top-Tier Streaming Service; FloGymnastics Isn’t It

It’s not a wild or controversial opinion, but it was time to formally say it: FloGymnastics is not the streaming service we want or need.

There are a lot of reasons. One is the exorbitant price, another is the lackluster coverage and certainly the most compelling is the nude photo situation that was never fully resolved. Let’s dig in; I’ll focus on the collegiate coverage because this is published on College Gym News, after all.

We’ll start with the price. $30 per month, or $147 per year for a FloPRO membership. The monthly and annual subscriptions give you access across all of FloSports’ dedicated sites.

For reference, an annual subscription to NBA League Pass, which gives access to all NBA action that is not geographically blacked out in your location, costs $249.99. NFL Game Pass, which provides replays of all NFL games, is $99 per year. The annual pass to the PGA’s streaming service for golf is $39.99.

Streaming services that provide non-cable access to a variety of channels are good reference points too: Sling (starts at $25 per month, with $5 add-on packages), Hulu with live TV ($44.99 per month) and FuboTV ($44.99 per month) are all good examples.

There are, of course, other more general sports properties that include college gymnastics: ESPN+ comes in at $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year for content not carried elsewhere on ESPN’s properties, while BTN+ is $14.95 per month or $119.95 annually for the conference-wide pass.

So, the only annual service more expensive than FloPRO is NBA League Pass. On League Pass, you get the local television streams for every game; imagine your local TV channel’s basketball broadcast. That’s exactly what League Pass provides access to.

For the monthly subscriptions, Hulu with live TV and FuboTV come in at a higher cost. Those subscriptions all provide much more than just access to low-quality streams, though, like access across Hulu’s on-demand services and cable television content.

That brings us to quality. On meets produced by FloSports, there are often no scores, or they roll in randomly throughout the meet. Gymnasts are misidentified or designated as on the wrong team. Commentators are often under prepared or totally unprepared.

Here are things we’ve written on this site during live blogs over the past two seasons:

  • We’re watching an empty beam instead of this set?????”
  • “As of now there is no live stats link, so I’ll do my best to keep track of scores as well.”
  • “And, since apparently it’s 1912 and not 2018, there will not be live scores for this meet.”
  • “Wow we just got a whole bunch of partial routines and I didn’t get to write down anything of note from any of them”
  • “Second time this weekend the commentators have mixed up who she was.”
  • “We still have no sound. OH! THERE IT IS. But will it remain?”
  • “LOL scores are down, so who knows whether UNL or Illinois is ahead.”
  • “Well, the stream is spelling her name wrong, so that’s a great start.”
  • “The sound quality is getting worse! There is buzzing! Everything is fine.”
  • “We just got a straight minute of Misty-Jade Carlson standing around and then missed her vault.”

And some comments from other gymnastics sites’ live blogs:

  • horrible camera work, no idea what happened there, she’s happy like a stick?”
  • “After 1 at Gymquarters: LSU – bloobadedoo Utah – fleepflorp Missouri – clangclackers Stanford – meepedalee”
  • “That woman who’s crying from exhaustion in the Flo ‘event is about to begin’ video is me every time I try to watch something from Flo.”
  • “The stream has deigned to begin working with Shea Mahoney smiling after vault. 9.850”
  • “cool how all the hs positions are out of shot”
  • “Apologies for the relative lack of updates from Ann Arbor. Flo keeps dying every two seconds and you are really surprised.”

Note that some complaints, like the commentating and live score failures, aren’t necessarily Flo’s fault. That said, imagine the SEC Network tolerating a school not producing successful live scores or not trying to compensate by providing individual scores and running totals on the screen. It wouldn’t happen. Flo should be demanding that the invitationals and events it covers have all the basic pieces for quality coverage in place.

Needless to say, the coverage overall isn’t great. These comments were all from feeds produced by FloSports, not the BTN2Go streams that FloPRO provides to viewers—those are also lackluster, but that’s a separate issue.

So far we can see that FloPRO costs more than most other dedicated streaming services and is of quite poor quality. Is it great that we have video of meets we wouldn’t otherwise? Yes. Is it amazing that there’s a streaming service dedicated to gymnastics? Also yes. But the sport demands better.

This brings us to the glaring past of FloGymnastics, which has resurfaced in the brouhaha over Flo charging for the Ann Arbor regional streams. Here’s a brief recap in case you’ve forgotten.

In 2014, some nude photos of an under-18 Olympian whose name we don’t need to drag through the mud again were hacked and released online in a big dump of stolen photos. Reports surfaced quickly that the photos were faked; whether they were real or not is irrelevant to what happened next though.

FloGymnastics—which at that point still went by Gymnastike but was owned by FloCast, what we now know as FloSports—posted a story about the nude photos and linked to them. The story was not written by a Gymnastike writer but by a (male) track and field editor. The story remained up, link intact, for days, despite immediate criticism.

When called out on Twitter, FloSports executive Joe Battaglia defended the decision thus (yes, the tweet remains up):

After more public outcry, Flo finally issued an almost-apology days later. It was just over a year later that Gymnastike rebranded and became FloGymnastics.

Let’s be clear: Gymnastike was created by two women who were in the sport and clearly love it. They are—as far as I know, Flo has taken down it’s list of employees—still heavily involved with FloGymnastics. I do not have a problem with them, and want to stress this piece is not about them.

I do have a problem with the male executives of the company linking to child porn and refusing to issue a sincere apology.

I do have a problem with a company charging fans an exorbitant amount of money for poorly-produced streams.

I do have a problem with a sports company regularly misidentifying gymnasts and cutting in and out of routines in progress, both of which are very disrespectful.

I do have a problem with that company suggesting fans who don’t like the cutting in and out simply opening all four event feeds, all the while limiting the number of feeds you can have open at once.

We have models of gymnastics coverage done well: The SEC Network is a shining example. ESPN’s main property has provided excellent coverage of several meets over the past two seasons. The Pac-12 Network has its own challenges but still manages to produce much better content than Flo. Even the bizarrely geoblocked Fox Sports Oklahoma streams of Oklahoma meets and PlutoTV free coverage of Denver and other west coast and mountain meets are far superior.

I maintain a personal FloPRO account to live blog meets that only air behind Flo’s paywall; I see it as part of my job here at College Gym News since so many teams on my beat compete at those Flo-produced meets.

My annual subscription is up in December. I’ll have to decide at that point whether covering the meets Flo produces is worth paying a company that is detrimental to our sport. For now, this is how I feel, and I hope any of you with a subscription think long and hard before renewing. If you don’t like my blogs of their paywalled meets, sites like the Balance Beam Situation and the Gymternet often blog some or all of those meets as well.

Don’t pay for Flo. Don’t read their articles. Don’t click their links. Sites like FloGymnastics make revenue from ads; the more you view, the more they make.

It’s time for a change, and clearly money is all that matters to FloSports.

Opinions presented here are those of the author and not of College Gym News as a whole. Emily can be reached at eminehart@collegegymnews.com.

Article by Emily Minehart

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  1. Flo is a disservice to gymnastics. If one wanted to sabotage “gymnastics marketing” then stay with Flo. NCAA made a mistake in using this service for Regionals’ broadcasts. If we want the popularity of gymnastics to grow then there has to be something else besides Flo.

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