*Figures reveal a 14.5M viewer increase compared to 2016 despite two fewer rallies
*Broadcast time increases by 11.7% to 1081 hours
*All-action coverage shown on 95 channels in 89 markets
The FIA European Rally Championship achieved significant audience and broadcast hours increases in 2017, independent analysis undertaken by Nielsen Sports on behalf of ERC promoter Eurosport Events has revealed.
Coverage of the eight-event 2017 ERC season reached a cumulative 177.2 million viewers, which marked a 14.5 million (nine per cent) increase compared to 2016, when the ERC calendar was made up of 10 rallies and therefore offered more viewing opportunities.
Despite there being two events fewer in 2017, broadcast time increased by 11.7 per cent to 1081 hours and 12 minutes, a result of new agreements with additional broadcast partners around the world – which totalled 95 channels in 89 markets – plus the reintroduction of trailers on Eurosport and an overhaul of the coverage produced, particularly the ERC All Access magazine show, which was significantly revamped.
Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “For the viewer numbers and broadcast hours to have increased at the end of a season when we took the decision to reduce the calendar in response to competitor feedback speaks volumes about the popularity of the ERC, the improvements made to the high-quality product produced by Eurosport Events, and the hard work behind the scenes to grow the roster of broadcast partners. While it has been very satisfying to share the findings of Nielsen Sports with our rallies, partners and other stakeholders, the challenge is already underway to achieve further increases in 2018.”
Italy, Latvia, Portugal and Spain were among the countries to experience audience increases. Spain’s 9.6 million rise – on the back of a season-high 249 hours and 42 minutes of broadcast time – was attributed to coverage being achieved on three of the most popular channels, Antena, La1 and Telecinco.
Italy’s return to the ERC schedule through Rally di Roma Capitale resulted, in part, with a 2.5 million audience increase following news coverage on Italia 1 and highlights on Rai Sport.
An audience rise of 1.2 million in Portugal was the result of RTP’s decision to air more coverage on its main national channels in light of top Portuguese driver Bruno Magalhães challenging for the title up until the final round in Latvia, where increased programming on LTV 1 led to an audience rise of 0.5 million.
The 2018 ERC season begins with the Azores Airlines Rallye from 22-24 March. The calendar features eight events – five on gravel, three on asphalt – with the championship finale taking place in Latvia with the sixth running of Rally Liepāja from 12-14 October.