Watching Brief (Vol.52) Special Focus: Skiing – Alpine World Ski Championships

Pauline McVey, analyst for SportBusiness Intelligence, reviews television audiences for the recent Alpine World Ski Championships in key European markets

Last month’s Alpine World Ski Championships drew strong television audiences in some of the sport’s key markets in Europe, according to analysis by SportBusiness Intelligence and Eurodata TV Worldwide.

In each of the five markets surveyed – Austria, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Slovenia – audiences for this year’s championships surpassed those for the last edition, in 2011. Slovenia and Sweden had the biggest increases. Audiences for Slovenian public-service broadcaster Radiotelevizija Slovenija more than doubled. Viewing in Sweden increased by 45 per cent following a switch of broadcaster from commercial and pay-television operator TV4 Group in 2011, to public-service broadcaster SVT in 2013.

Austrian public-service broadcaster ORF capitalised on heightened interest in the championships due to Austria hosting the event, increasing its average audience by eight per cent on the 2011 event, which was held in Germany. German audiences were up by 20 per cent for public-service broadcasters ARD and ZDF. In Norway, viewing increased by 32 per cent for NRK, the public-service broadcaster.

Market-by-market analysis
In Austria, an average audience of 779,000 (49.9-per-cent share) watched ORF’s increased coverage of the 2013 championships, up from 722,000 (61.6-per-cent share) in 2011. With this year’s event taking place in the Austrian town of Schladming,

ORF showed 35 hours of coverage from the championships, compared to 21 hours in 2011. The second run of the men’s slalom, the finale to the two-week event, produced the top audience for ORF, of 1.681 million (71.1-per-cent share). Austrian Marcel Hischer won gold, while his compatriot Mario Matt took bronze.

German public-service broadcasters ARD and ZDF attracted an average audience of 2.321 million (19.1-per-cent share). The broadcasters’ coverage this year was two hours shorter than in 2011. As with Austria, the second run of the men’s slalom competition delivered the top audience in Germany, with 4.292 million viewers tuning in (24.5-per-cent share) to see German Felix Neureuther come away with a silver medal.

In Norway, another market where the men’s slalom topped the ratings, an audience of 490,000 (47.8-per-cent share) watched as the top-placed Norwegian competitor, Kristian Haugen, finished in a lowly 23rd place. NRK’s average audience for the championships was 245,000 (41-per-cent share), up from 186,000 (43.9-per-cent share) in 2011.

The average audience in Slovenia surged from just 87,000 (27.4-per-cent share) two years ago, to 192,000 (38.9-per-cent share) in 2013. The audience was boosted by Slovenian female skier Tina Maze, who arrived at the championships as a hot favourite following a record-breaking 2012-13 season. The women’s downhill, in which Maze finished seventh, was the most-watched event in Slovenia, as 457,000 (75-per-cent share) tuned in.

In Sweden, the change in broadcaster from TV4 to SVT coincided with a positive impact on viewing. The average audience increased to 567,000 (44.6-per-cent share), from 391,000 (39.4-per-cent share). Qualifying for the men’s slalom on the penultimate day of the championships proved to be the top draw for SVT, attracting an audience of 1.113 million (66.4-per-cent share).

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