The British round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) continues to grow in popularity amongst fans, following the announcement of a rise in the television audience viewing figures during the recent Dayinsure Wales Rally GB (27-30 October).
For the first time in more than a decade, fans in the UK had the opportunity to watch live action from the classic event on both terrestrial and pay TV networks. Sunday’s concluding Power Stage was screened live by terrestrial broadcaster Channel 5 as well as satellite broadcaster BT Sport.
Figures from Channel 5 reveal a total of 733,000 viewers tuned in to watch World Champion Sébastien Ogier seal his fourth consecutive Wales Rally GB victory – with an audience peak 71% higher than the 13-week average for the same time slot. A highlights programme shown on Monday after the rally attracted an equally impressive peak audience of 450,000.
In a groundbreaking move, BT Sport provided its subscribers with 4K ultra high-definition coverage for the very first time. The world-class event also benefitted from extensive daily airtime on S4C via its Welsh-language Ralio+ programme plus regional BBC and ITV networks in both north Wales and north-west England.
“It has been many years since UK fans had the opportunity to enjoy live WRC action on a mainstream free-to-air network. We’re delighted with the audience figures from both the Sunday Power Stage and also Channel 5’s highlights show the following evening,” said Oliver Ciesla, managing director of WRC Promoter said. “Interest in Channel 5’s coverage has grown steadily throughout 2016 and that’s hugely encouraging ahead of the new-era WRC next season, when more powerful, dynamic cars will provide even more thrilling and exciting competition.”
Even ahead of the new generation of faster cars, the WRC has seen big audience increases in important TV markets in 2016. Independent research agency Repucom has reported large audience growth in Japan (127%), Germany (89%) and Mexico (81%) as well as notable upsurges in the Asian Pacific, African and North and South American regions, while regular highlights programmes after each rally on Channel 5 helped Britain’s viewing figures to move up by 44% over the first half of the current season.