Versus Speeds To Viewership Mark With 2009 Tour

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Spain's Alberto Contador rode away with the title, but Versus, aided by the return of American icon Lance Armstrong, set a new mark with its Tour de France coverage.

Comcast's national sports network cumed more than 46 million watchers for the world's premiere bicycle race, up 41% from the 32.8 million who watched the 2008 competition.

Over the course of the 21-stage race, which was presented in high-definition for the first time, Versus notched a 67% increase in household ratings, which translated into a 98% surge in viewership to 529,926 from 267,722, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

Versus also rode well with key demos, pedaling to gains of 104%, 121%, 128% among men 25 to 54, 18 to 34 and 18 to 49, respectively.

Online,, the official Tour de France Web site in the U.S., offered live streaming of the race as a complement to the on-air coverage for the first time and reaped the rewards: traffic increased 117% over the 2008 Tour and 16 million videos were viewed, compared with 6.5 million a year ago and 3.4 million with the 2007 race.
"There is no other network that could provide in-depth and comprehensive coverage of the Tour like Versus did. For nine years, the network has given cycling fans an all-access pass to the race and viewers came in record numbers, both on TV and online, to watch this year's intense battle," said network president Jamie Davis in a statement. "While the 2009 race may be remembered as one of the most historic competitions in recent years, I believe that 2010 will be even more epic when Contador and Armstrong are riding for different teams."