As the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea grow closer, Curopean sports network Eurosport said its audience in growing as viewers have flocked to track and field and cycling programming.
Eurosport, part of Discovery Communications, has secured European rights to the Olympic Games through 2024. The company has been working hard to secure sub-licensing deals with free-to-air and other distributors to broaden its coverage as the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang near.
Strong audiences at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in London and impressive ratings from the first two weeks of Spanish cycling event La Vuelta have contributed to a 28% increase in average viewer numbers across the Eurosport Group in 2017 compared with the same point in 2016.
According to Eurosport, an average of 1.5 million fans tuned in to Eurosport 1 daily to watch the IAAF event, an increase of 104% compared to Beijing in 2015. This year’s World Athletics Championships were also the best recorded on Eurosport’s channels in over ten years in Germany, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.
The opening fortnight of La Vuelta produced record average audience figures nearing 1.3 million for the programmer, making the 2017 edition the second best in 12 years (behind 2015). Eurosport has also reported an average audience increase of 50% versus the same period in 2016.
Boosted by the performance of local cycling stars like reigning Tour de France champion Chris Froome, Poland’s Rafal Majka, and Tomasz Marczynski, Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali, Dutch cyclist Wilco Kelderman and Spanish favorite Alberto Contador average audience numbers have increased markedly in several key markets across Europe versus 2016 including the UK (+47%), Poland (+67%), Italy (+118%), Netherlands (+85%) and Spain (+90%).
“We have been delighted with the response from fans to our coverage of some of the best sporting events in the world so far in 2017,” Eurosport CEO Peter Hutton said in a statement. “We continue to defy the ongoing misconception that live sport on linear platforms is in decline with audiences continuing to show an appetite for premium content.”
“Coupled with the fact that some of the best athletes in the world – from Roger Federer to Usain Bolt and Chris Froome to Serena Williams - have been showcased on Eurosport screens throughout the year, we remain the number one destination for sports fans eager to watch premium, live content and the highest production values in sport,” Hutton continued.
Earlier this year, Eurosport reported an average audience increase of 18% compared with 2016 for its coverage of Roland Garros while the Eurosport Network and Discovery-owned DMAX in Spain registered the second most-watched event in Eurosport’s history when Roger Federer defeated Rafa Nadal in the men’s final at the Australian Open in January. July’s Tour de France also attracted 10% more viewers on Eurosport compared with 2016, including the most-watched stage since 2013 when over 1.2 million viewers watched stage 13 on Bastille Day.