Record half year for Warner Bros. Discovery Sports in Europe as viewing figures rocket
Warner Bros. Discovery Sports has announced a record first half of the year with double-digit audience and engagement growth on all its channels and platforms so far in 2022. In marked contrast to recent industry trends and expectations, it is witnessing increases on both its linear television channels and digital platforms.
Alongside an enhanced discovery+ user experience and refreshed look for its Eurosport channels, the growth in audience and engagement has been driven by a blockbuster line-up of live sport across the first half of the year. This includes Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, the year’s first two tennis Grand Slams, the road cycling season featuring the first Grand Tour of the year, the Giro d’Italia, and a range of new rights for 2022.
In Europe and international markets, linear television audiences have increased 10% year-on-year (versus H1 2021) across Eurosport and Warner Bros. Discovery’s free-to-air networks in Europe that present live sport. This growth is particularly notable when set against a 11% decline in total television consumption across the industry so far this year. Television audiences on Eurosport channels and sport on free-to-air are up in all major markets including France (+23%), Italy (+19%), Poland (+18%), Spain (+46%) and the UK (+12%). Sports coverage on the channels, including Eurosport 1 and Eurosport 2, are also attracting more of the available viewers with an average 12% rise in audience share.
discovery+ has led the way in more people streaming live sport and on-demand shoulder content. Unique streaming viewers have increased almost a quarter (+24% vs 2021) across all services, including the Eurosport App, during the first half of the year, while almost half as many more video views (+49%) were added versus the same period in 2021. Sport on discovery+ alone has seen a significant uplift (+50%) compared to the first half of last year, as video views more than doubled (+149%) and streaming minutes more than tripled (+213%).
Andrew Georgiou, president and managing director, Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Europe, said: “The significant growth in audience and engagement we’ve seen this year is a testament to our strategy of making content available in whatever way viewers choose to watch. Throughout Europe we are unique in how we are able to engage audiences across our free-to-air, pay TV and streaming platforms – serving all audience segments, from diehard to more casual fans and ‘big eventers’. In this way, we’ve continued to grow our television audiences whilst also seeing a rapid rise in people streaming live sport on discovery+ and our digital services.”
Eurosport’s websites featuring the latest news, results and video content have also seen significant increases in audience numbers so far this year. Eurosport.com and its local websites across Europe have seen a 30% rise in unique monthly visitors, reaching more than 67 million earlier this year. More people are consuming more content with free video views nearly doubling (+96%) and substantially more minutes being watched (+82%). This was supported across discovery+ Sport and Eurosport social accounts which have seen a significant increase in reach (+100%) and more than doubled the number of user interactions (+151%) and video views (+142%).
The gains over the first half of 2022 have been delivered across a range of events and milestones, including strong Australian Open audiences to start the year, record Roland-Garros tournament and Giro d’Italia finale seeing Eurosport’s biggest week for seven years, and a record Olympic Winter Games with discovery+ growth leading the way.
In addition, new rights launching in 2022 have seen new viewers attracted to discovery+ and Eurosport. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has been particularly popular with UFC and Cage Warriors both engaging new fans for the company’s channels and platforms in Netherlands and Spain. Building on Discovery Sports Events’ role as the global promoter for the sport, the addition of Speedway GP to discovery+ and Eurosport throughout Eurosport has seen a significant jump in viewers streaming the sport.