The International Triathlon Union (ITU) has announced that television coverage of the ITU World Triathlon Series season achieved its widest distribution to date in 2012, underscoring the sport's continued increase in popularity.
"Triathlon is a dynamic sport, with constant lead changes and surprise finishes," ITU President and IOC Member Marisol Casado said. "Its unpredictable nature provides exciting entertainment for viewers watching from home."??In 2012, television exposure increased by 18%, with broadcast duration reaching over 1,000 hours for the first time. The World Triathlon Series accumulated 5.43 billion contacts* in 2012 – up 168% from when it began after the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
According to the broadcast analysis, which was conducted independently by IFM Sports, the seventh stage of the 2012 WTS series in Yokohama proved to be the most widely viewed race of the year, with almost 1.2 billion contacts* calculated. Together, WTS online properties also generated more than five million impressions.
The hike in television numbers was possible through commercial deals with 22 broadcast partners to show the WTS races live, while 40 TV partners aired ten 52-minute magazine programs in more than 160 countries.
"The ITU World Triathlon Series is a robust media product, which emphasises the global popularity of triathlon through broadcasting," said Upsolut CEO Christian Toetzke. "The strong numbers are a result of the positive and effective TV marketing cooperation between Lagardère subsidiaries, IEC in Sports and Upsolut."
The widespread success of triathlon at the 2012 London Olympic Games is seen as a further boost to triathlon's popularity. Over 4.7 million people watched the spectacular photo finish between Nicola Spirig (SUI) and Lisa Norden (SWE) in the women's triathlon on the BBC in the UK. The men's race received even higher ratings, with 5.6 million people having tuned into BBC to see the Brownlee brothers claim gold and bronze in front of a home crowd.
The ITU World Triathlon Series enters its fifth year, each stage will once again be transmitted live to an international TV audience of more than 160 countries, as well as streamed online.
The 2013 season, which kicks off in Auckland on April 6, is expected to attract record-high numbers of amateur triathletes throughout the eight-race series, in addition to the world's best elite triathletes. The Grand Final races will be held at the iconic Olympic venue in Hyde Park, giving all athletes the opportunity to compete on the same stage as the 2012 Olympians.
*= FASPO Contacts: links broadcasting time and audience rating per programme on presumed 30 seconds-intervals.
Image: Delly Carr/ITU