Biathlon World Championships draws in huge audiences across viewing platforms

The Östersund 2019 IBU World Championships 4-17 March drew impressive television audiences free-to-air, with 133.55 million live hours viewed across the ten days of competition. This is a 6.5% increase on hours viewed in 2017 and 23.1% increase on 2016 (shown through initial data collected across 10 key European territories).

All regions showed growing ratings, demonstrating the strong engagement of biathlon fans and the continuous promotion of biathlon by EBU Members.

Fans in the bigger biathlon markets tuned in in large numbers to watch Östersund World Championships on EBU Members and partners’ channels. 57.1 million live hours were viewed across the ten days of competition on Germany’s ARD and ZDF channels, 9.7 million hours viewed on NRK in Norway, 8.5 million on France La Chaine L’Equipe and 17.87 million hours viewed in Russia on Match TV and PERVY KANAL channels.

Coverage in the Nordic region has been impressive during the ten days of competition:

  • Sweden’s SVT hit a record average audience for the World Championships since 2016 of 1.3 million. They reported an 80% market share for the Women’s relay and the best ratings of the biathlon 2018/19 season for Women’s individuals with 2’463’467 live hours viewed
  • Finland’s YLE saw a record average audience of 0.9 million for Östersund, an increase of 12% on 2017 and 23% on 2016. They reported a top market share of 71.1% for the Women’s 10km pursuit.
  • Norway’s NRK saw its best ratings for biathlon coverage this season with an 81.4% market share for the Men’s relay.

In Central and Eastern European countries, audience figures have also exceeded expectations:

  • Czech Republic’s CT Sport reported a 30.8% market share for the Women’s mass start as a new record for the current season of biathlon
  • On Slovakia’s Dvojka RTVS channel, 279’000 viewers watched the Women’s 10km pursuit live, which is more than twice the average audience of the 2016 and 2017 World Championships.
  • Slovenia’s SLO2 highest market share reached 32.6% for the Women’s relay, a 26% increase on the channel’s average market share.

In total 17 EBU Members showed coverage from Ostersund 2019, including Austria, Belorussia, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, Ukraine. Digital initiatives complimented the television coverage, designed to maximise the reach of content online and engage the widest possible audiences.

A fully immersive Virtual Reality app was made available to enrich viewers’ second-screen experiences. Thousands of users enjoyed this experience spending on average around 20 minutes immersed in Östersund.

In addition, the Eurovision Near-Live Clipping & Web Publishing platform enabled users to create clips, interviews and highlights packages, and publish directly on websites, Over-the-Top (OTT) platforms, and social media channels.

Broadcasters in France and Poland also covered the event, together with Eurosport offering pan-European visibility as well as exclusivity in 27 countries such as Belgium and Italy. Worldwide coverage came from SBS (Korea), CCTV (China) and, for the first time, NBC (USA).

Stefan Kuerten, executive director Eurovision Sport said, “The IBU World Championships is one of the biggest events in the winter sports calendar and we are proud to be able to offer the excitement and action to such large audiences.

“We greatly enjoy working together with the IBU to grow interest in biathlon, across Europe and in new territories such as China, and the success is shown in the figures. Together with Eurovision Services we have offered many new ways for our EBU Members to enhance their coverage and capture the widest possible audience, all contributing to a greatly enhanced offer for audiences.”

IBU president Olle Dahlin said, “The viewing figures are very impressive and show an unbroken strong upwards trend for biathlon. It has been a spectacular World Championships and we are proud to have engaged fans far and wide in traditional territories and new markets.”

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