Report: Sport draws big despite no major events

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Médiamétrie, the specialist in measuring media usage, has released its Yearly Sport Key Facts 2019 report.

Yassine Berhoun, Glance’s Sports Director, commented: “In an odd-numbered year when there are no major sporting event apart from the Rugby World Cup, once again, sport has proven to be most capable genre at bringing millions of viewers around the world to watch their TV.”

General interest channels refocus on big sporting events

In many countries during the 2018-19 sports season, there was a general decline in the number of hours of sports broadcast on general interest channels. In recent years, Médiamétrie has observed the transfer of broadcasting rights away from free-to-air channels towards pay-TV channels, especially as regards contests such as the Champions League and Formula 1. This can be seen in the current sports offering on general interest channels with its new focus on the major international competitions due to the legal protection for such broadcasts on free-to-air channels. Therefore, in France and in Germany, the number of hours of sports offered on the free-to-air channels has fallen by 39 per cent and 25 per cent respectively since the 2017-18 season, which included the Football World Cup in Russia and the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Nevertheless, if drawing the comparison with the previous season including an odd-numbered year (2016-17), then the decline was less pronounced with 21 per cent fewer sports programmes aired in France and just 8 per cent fewer in Germany.

Successful global contests

The FIFA Women’s World Cup was one of this season’s biggest hits, establishing its rightful place in many countries. In the host nation France, the top five sports audiences from the season were for matches during the championship. The quarter-final between France and the US attracted the highest audience so far in 2019 for any programming genre, with more than 10.7 million viewers on television and a 49.6 per cent audience share on TF1. In the Netherlands, the final between the home squad and the US attracted 5.5 million TV viewers and a market share of 87.2 per cent on NPO 1, also the highest sporting audience over the season. On the other side of the Atlantic, the final was broadcast on FOX at 11am owing to the time difference. 14.1 million American viewers sat down in front of the television to witness their national team’s triumph (26.9 per cent audience share).More recently, this year’s Rugby World Cup held in Japan attracted large audiences, especially for the host nation. Indeed, the two highest audiences recorded so far in 2019 for any programme genre aired in Japan were Rugby World Cup matches: the quarter-final in which Japan lost to South Africa was watched by more than 11.6 million people i.e. an audience share of 57.4 per cent on NHK G in the Kanto region. The event also enjoyed massive success in Europe, and more particularly in the UK, in spite of the significant time difference. On average, 5.1 million viewers tuned in for the national team’s matches, i.e. an audience share of 52.3 per cent on ITV. The final against South Africa which aired at 9am in the UK drew an audience of 9.1 million TV viewers i.e. an audience share of 67 per cent on ITV.

Surprises for sports with less exposure

Away from the big international competitions, the 2018-19 season, as in every year, generated its fair share of surprises, local particularities and other unusual performances. In Canada, the Toronto Raptors’ victory against the Golden State Warriors in the 2019 NBA basketball finals caused a real stir: 6 out of the 10 top audiences during the season were for the final six games. The last game in the series was watched by 5.1 million viewers i.e. an audience share of 39.1 per cent on TSN – the highest audience for sport over the study period; a pleasant surprise for a country that is more enthusiastic about ice sports and American football.

In Germany, for the first time since the 1999 Brazilian Grand Prix, the highest audience during the season was not for a football match, but rather for the semi-final of the World Men’s Handball Championship between Germany and Norway which gathered an audience of 11.9 million fans on ARD (36.4 per cent audience share).

Winter sports have also featured among the most popular sports on air this season. As such in Austria and Slovenia, the top ten audiences for the season were for winter sports programmes. In Poland, 8 out of the 10 highest audiences over the period were for ski jumping, with more than 5.3 million viewers tuning in to TVP1 to watch compatriot Dawid Kubacki’s victory in the Val di Fiemme event.


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