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Tour de France Viewership

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Tour de France: Record-Breaking Viewership Highlights Cycling’s Global Appeal

According to Professor Daam Van Reeth from KU Leuven, the viewership of cycling classics in Flanders, Belgium reached a record high in 2023. The Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) had 1.63 million viewers during the final stages, with an average of 1.37 million viewers throughout the broadcast. This was a record for both the men’s and women’s races, indicating the strong appeal of cycling stars like Tadej Pogacar, Wout van Aert, and Mathieu van der Poel. The increased viewership was observed not only during the Ronde van Vlaanderen but also throughout the entire spring season.

When considering the ten spring classics aired on Sporza (the Flemish public broadcaster), the average viewership was 818.770, surpassing the previous record set in 2015. Compared to the average viewership of the past ten years, the 2023 spring classics had a nine percent increase. Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium, also experienced a six percent increase in viewership.

In contrast, traditional cycling nations such as the Netherlands, Italy, and Spain witnessed a decline in viewership. The Dutch public broadcaster saw a six percent decrease in viewership, while Italy and Spain experienced drops of 10 and 21 percent, respectively, compared to the ten-year average. The current cycling stars predominantly hail from Belgium, the Netherlands, and Slovenia, which may explain the difference in viewership numbers.

Belgium emerges as the largest TV market for spring classics despite its relatively small population of 11.6 million. France, with nearly six times the population of Belgium, comes close in terms of total viewership. While precise figures are not disclosed, races like Paris-Roubaix consistently draw 1.5 to 2 million viewers on France Télévisions, with other classics nearing the one-million mark. However, some major European markets, like Germany and the United Kingdom, often require viewers to access the classics through Eurosport.

On a global scale, cycling remains a niche sport. Even when considering streaming services, the five monuments of cycling average around five million viewers per race, with Belgium contributing over a million viewers. The Tour de France stands out with significantly higher viewership, averaging 15 to 20 million viewers worldwide, and certain mountain stages reaching up to 25 million viewers. In comparison to sports like football or basketball, these numbers are still relatively small, making cycling a niche sport worldwide, except in Belgium and a few other Western European countries and regions.

The Tour de France, a world-famous cycle race that took place for the first time in 1903, attracts a massive audience. In 2021, the competition drew a television audience of 150 million viewers across Europe. The importance of the Tour de France is evident from its extensive broadcast coverage. Every stage of the 2023 Tour de France will be broadcast in full on Eurosport, reaching a wide international audience. Furthermore, there will be broadcasts by various other networks, such as France TV Sport, VRT (Belgium), RAI Sport (Italy), NOS (Netherlands), ARD (Germany), and CCTV (China).

This year’s Tour de France has several key partners, including LCL, Leclerc, Skoda, Continental, and Krys.

In Belgium, the Tour de France also garners significant attention. On this year’s first stage, there were 70.794 streams of the race on Sporza, while 1.083.734 people watched live on television. These numbers indicate a strong following in Belgium.

In conclusion, the Tour de France continues to captivate audiences worldwide, with significant viewership in Belgium and other Western European countries. While cycling remains a niche sport on a global scale, the Tour de France stands out as a major event in the cycling calendar, attracting millions of viewers and captivating fans across the globe.

Sources: Gemius Audience, Statista, Le Tour, Knack

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