Bolstered by the cycling stars of the Olympics and a lucrative deal with Sky Sports, cycling has received more airtime than ever before during 2008.
At the peak of the coverage, 4.45 million viewers tuned into the BBC to watch Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins take gold medals in the Olympics. The World Track Championships during March drew the second largest crowd, also on the BBC, drawing 1.7 million viewers on BBC1 and 1.18 million viewers on BBC2.
Olympics aside, the Tour De France still pulled the biggest figures, drawing in between 231,000 and 502,000 viewers at various stages of the race. Shown on ITV4, the race was the channel’s most-watched programme during all three weeks of its duration. The peak figure from the same schedule in 2007 was 329,000.
According to the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board, of the satellite channels, Eurosport drew impressive figures too, recording 198,000 viewers for the 19th stage of the Giro d’italia.
In future, Sky will likely plug cycling at every opportunity, ramping up coverage toward the 2012 Olympics. David Brailsford, British Cycling’s performance director said: "Sky is a committed and passionate partner for British Cycling. Working together, we can take elite cycling to new heights and get more people involved in the sport at all levels."
The sports media giant signed a multi-million pound, five-year sponsorship deal with British Cycling on July 24th of this year, as well as sponsoring the London Freewheel.