WRC global TV audience leaps 15 per cent in opening three rounds
• Broadcast time increases by 28 per cent across first quarter
• France, Spain and Finland among top TV markets
• WRC back on screen in key Chinese market
• Increased media value for car brands competing in WRC
• Surge in WRC eSports followers during lockdown tournaments
– Global television audiences for the FIA World
Rally Championship soared by 15 per cent year-on-year during the
opening three rounds of the 2020 season.
New figures from independent analyst Nielsen Sports reveal more than
242 million people watched Rallye Monte-Carlo, Rally Sweden and Rally
Guanajuato Mexico on worldwide television. That compared with 211
million in 2019.
The rallies drew an average TV audience of more than 80 million, topped
by January’s season-opener in Monte-Carlo which was once again viewed
by more than 100 million people.
Broadcast time also showed a significant increase. The three rallies
generated 2,679 hours of coverage, a 28 per cent rise on last season’s
total of 2,095 hours.
Both sets of figures maintain the consistent broadcast growth since WRC
Promoter acquired the championship’s commercial rights ahead of the
Last year almost 850 million people watched the WRC on global
television, an increase of 38 per cent since 2013. TV broadcast time was
up 66 per cent in the same period.
WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla said a raft of changes to
teams’ driver line-ups instilled huge anticipation among fans ahead of
“The first-quarter TV figures indicate a fabulous start to the 2020 series
and highlight the continued increased global interest in WRC. Driver
transfers brought further unpredictability and excitement as the pilots
settled into their new teams and cars.
“The Covid-19 virus has, of course, heavily impacted our season since the
opening three rounds. However, WRC TV continues to produce magazine
programmes and ‘best of’ shows for our global broadcast partners until
the cars can run again,” he added.
Finland, France, Spain, Belgium and Sweden were the top five audience
markets. Japan, which hosts a WRC round in November for the first time
since 2010, was also ranked in the top 10.
Finnish free-to-air network YLE, which at the start of this year extended
its agreement to screen WRC until the end of 2022, topped the list of
networks. Sweden’s SVT and Japan’s TV Asahi were also in the top three.
Ahead of the 2020 season, the WRC also renewed partnerships with freeto-air broadcaster TVE and tv3 in Spain, inked a new agreement with ITV4
in Britain after a five-year absence and confirmed a contract with Tencent
The broadcast figures showed a significant increase in secondary
coverage on mainstream news and sport magazine programmes.
Nielsen also reported strong digital and social media numbers. There
were 112 million online video views across the official channels of the
WRC eco-system (WRC, WRC partners, manufacturers and drivers) during
the first three months. In the same period the WRC’s own social media
community grew to more than 4.3 million fans.
Nielsen’s data also showed increased benefits to the car manufacturers
competing in the WRC. Ford, Hyundai and Toyota enjoyed a combined
media value of more than €150 million across the three rounds.
The Greatest WRC Driver / eSports Shootouts
The WRC’s innovative contest to name The Greatest WRC Driver of all
time attracted almost 600,000 unique page views on the FIA World Rally
Championship’s official wrc.com website.
The competition captured the imagination of fans across the globe. More
than 80,000 votes were received in last month’s final when Spain’s Carlos
Sainz defeated nine-time world champion Sébastien Loeb to be named
the fans’ favourite.
More than 300,000 votes were cast across the tournament, supported by
Pirelli, which pitted all 18 world champion drivers and two wildcard
entries into a series of head-to-head knockout contests. Fan votes, allied
to those from a panel of expert journalists, decided the outcome.
The competition also generated 1.2 million video views on the WRC’s
social media channels.
Two eSports tournaments broadcast on the WRC’s Facebook platform
during the Coronavirus-enforced lockdown generated a further million
video views on the WRC’s official channels.
Last month’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal and the eSports WRC Shootout
contests also sparked nearly 100,000 social media fan engagements as
virtual rallying recorded a surge of interest fuelled by the worldwide
pause in motorsport.
Ciesla said that despite the sport’s shutdown, the WRC had implemented
successful concepts to retain a focus on the championship and its fans.
“We reacted quickly to the absence of WRC action to keep our fans
entertained. A core element of our strategy was not only to develop
content for our own channels, but also initiatives relevant to our
manufacturer teams, drivers, event organisers and media,” he added.