In 2017 football, winter sports and local competitions have gathered large audiences in front of TV screens around the world. While television is increasingly challenged by non-linear ways of consumption, sports and live television are still a perfect match. Attractive prospects ahead of 2018 global super-events such as the Winter Olympics and the Football World Cup.
In Yearly Sport Key Facts 2017 Yassine Berhoun, Sports Director at EurodataTV Worldwide points out: “In 2017 again, a number of sports programmes have gathered significant audiences in spite of the transfer of rights to pay TV. Consequently, alternative competitions have successfully been broadcast on public channels like the Women Euro in the Netherlands for example.”
Football king of sports
In the 45 countries studied, football accounts for a large part of the Sports programming on generalist channels: 27 per cent on average. It amounts to more than 70 per cent in Portugal and Russia.
The 2018 World Cup Qualifiers performances also give us a clue to measure fan’s eagerness to support their teams in the Russian arenas. In Belgium for instance, all the 7 matches of the Red Devils’ campaign that took place between September 2016 and June 2017 are part of the 10 best Sports audiences. In Croatia, the national team qualifiers scored an average market share of 43.7 per cent on HTV1 & HTV2.
In The Netherlands, the victory of Women’s national team over Denmark for the final of Women’s Euro championship gathered 4.1 million viewers on NPO1, with an impressive 82.7 per cent market share: this was the best Sports audience of the season on Dutch television.
Another European competition did well when exported: in Indonesia, the 10th best Sports audience of the year was the UEFA Champions League final with an average of 2.9 million viewers who turned their television on between 1:30 am and 4:00 am. Still in South East Asia, the highlight of the season was the final of the biennial local competition, the AFF Suzuki Cup. The 1st leg was the best audience of the year in Indonesia with 8.8M viewers, while the 2nd leg toped the sports ranking in Thailand, with 10.5 million viewers who watched the national team win. In Japan, the best performing sports programme was the FIFA Club World Cup final between the local team Kashima Antlers and Real Madrid: 7.2 million viewers watched the Japanese side lost to Zidane’s team in overtime on NTV.
On track for Winter Olympics
Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea is one of the most awaited Sports event of the next season. Judging by the last winter sports television performances, especially in Europe, there will be lots of expectations around the global event. In Slovenia for instance, during the Winter Sports period (December to March) the total day market share of the broadcasting channel, Slovenija 2, is multiplied by 2.5 compared to the rest of the year.
In Russia Biathlon is digging in: the 2017 World Championships averaged 1.9 million viewers over the 14 hours of live broadcasts. It’s just as good as the FIFA Confederations Cup’s average viewership, that took place in Russia this summer.
The interest in Winter Sports stays firm in Scandinavia. Finland organised the latest Nordic World Ski Championships in Lahti in 2017, and the 45 live hours averaged a market share of 59 per cent for YLE2. With a similar exposure on the main public channel NRK1, the event achieved an even higher average market share of 69 per cent in Norway.
Local sports drew impressive audiences
Key local sports mobilise the public too. In the United-States, the Game 7 of the 2016 World Series became the most watched baseball game in 25 years: on average, 40 million of viewers watched the Chicago Cubs breaking their 108-year curse on FOX (for a 36.5 per cent market share). It managed to make it to the 5th place of the Top 10 Sports broadcasts of the season, in a ranking usually trusted by American Football.
Back to Europe, In France and Norway, the best performing Sports broadcast of the year were not a Football game or Cross-Country race. For both countries, it was the Final of the 2017 Handball Men’s World Championships: the game gathered on average 8.7 million viewers on TF1 in France (43.6 per cent market share) and 1.8 million in Norway on TV 2, which scored an impressive market share of 82.2 per cent.
It is common knowledge that national heroes and local athletes have a decisive impact on boosting the events ratings. Yet, some champions can make the interest in sports cross the borders. Two boxing bouts proved it this season. The fight between Joshua (English) and Klitschko (Ukrainian) took the 9th place of the best Sports audience in Germany, gathering 9.5 million viewers on RTL (for a 40 per cent market share). At the end of August, the hype around the fight between Mayweather (American) and McGregor (Irish) helped the channel KBS2 in South Korea score the 2nd best sports audience of the season, averaging 2.8 million viewers for a fight that started at 11:30 am on a Sunday.