As the 2015 Tour de France enters its final stages this week, a new study has revealed growing interest in the famous race worldwide - not just in the UK now that British riders have won it twice.
The news will be heartening to sponsors associated with Le Tour, according to Repucom, a sports and entertainment intelligence advisor. It found three countries have grown particularly - the US (4% point increase), Italy (8% point increase) and the UAE (12% point increase). The rise in UK interest has been more modest (1% point increase, to 22%).
Interest in Italy in the Tour (30%) now joins France (32%), The Netherlands (33%) and Spain (38%) as those markets which have at least 30% of the domestic population who say they are interested in the event. Today, of the eleven markets tested, international interest in the Tour de France has jumped to 23%, up from 20% in 2012.
The knock on effect on sponsorship is clear, the report added: This year is the first time in the Tour’s history where five brands are included within the highest sponsorship tier, including Skoda, LCL, Carrefour, Krys and Vittel. And the Tour is attracting new international sponsors, such as South African IT firm, Dimension Data having signed a five year deal in March this year to become the Tour’s Official Technology Partner.
“These figures show that whilst the Tour de France is growing in appeal globally, it remains a much loved event in its more traditional heartlands of central and southern Europe," said Mike Wragg, Executive VP Market Research at Repucom.
“The rise in fan interest internationally, especially in markets such as the UAE, provides some crucial clues as to potential future investors into the Tour and the sport more generally. Investment in sport in the UAE and across the region has boomed in the last five years and we’re now seeing this reflected in the growth of fan bases. The knock on effect, as we have seen with European football for example, is that events like the Tour de France could now become more appealing to sponsors from Middle East markets.
“The growth in international fan bases shows what a great prospect the Tour is for sponsors today and will be ahead of the 2016 event next year. Following the doping scandals that rocked cycling over the last 10 years, we’re now seeing that the sport is turning a corner, both in terms of fan interest and in terms of sponsorship appeal. We expect the 2016 event to attract even more international interest, an event that today represents a great opportunity for brands to engage or even to reengage with.”
The improving TV broadcast experience for viewers is important, the report said, to reengage fans, grow viewership and in turn, sponsorship revenues. The report was comparing 2012 with 2015 fan interest.