A Glance at sports TV globally during Covid2019

The report says that channels showed reruns and notched up viewership.

NEW DELHI: In a year mostly devoid of outdoors action, it came as no big surprise that when live sports resumed in the form of the IPL 2020, it set new viewership records. In a similar fashion, season seven of the ISL is also performing very well, further speaking to the love of football in India.

But how did sports television fare in other parts of the globe? How did sports buffs in other nations get by for months when live sport was a no-no?

The 2020 edition of the Yearly Sport Key Facts will give you a clue. Brought out by Glance, a specialist of international TV markets, the report states that months into the Coronavirus pandemic, sports fans are eagerly awaiting the return of sports on television and that the year will forever be an unprecedented season in the history of worldwide sports.

“The broadcast sports offer during the 2019-20 season has logically declined, but audience successes have also been recorded in many countries, particularly with the resumption of competitions after lockdown,” said Glance sport director Yassine Berhoun.

She should know: her agency provides official TV ratings for over 7,000 channels in more than 120 territories.

As all the sports competitions from March to June were cancelled, right holders and broadcasters were left with no option but to reinvent themselves to offer attractive content to sports enthusiasts during lockdown.

Some channels in European countries showed reruns of the greatest triumphs of their national teams. In France, the L’Equipe channel broadcast several matches from the 2018 World Cup, including France’s win in the final against Croatia, which attracted more than 600,000 viewers.  Similar strategies were adopted in Germany and Spain.

Virtual events were also set up to make up for the absence of live sports. In northern Belgium, the broadcast of the virtual Tour of Flanders on EEN, where 13 riders were facing each other on a cycling simulation, was watched by more than 600,000 viewers with an audience share of 56 per cent.

In the United States, the ESPN channel aired The Last Dance documentary series about the final season (1997-98) of the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan’s basketball team. The eagerly awaited documentary created a buzz and was watched on average by more than 6.7 million TV viewers for an average audience share of 7.8 per cent, the biggest audience in history for an ESPN documentary.

The games have returned, but are still being played behind closed doors. One of the first football competitions to resume was the Bundesliga, the German league which was broadcast by the Sky Group in Germany. The first post-lockdown day broadcast thus achieved an audience of more than 2.5 million fans.

In Italy, the final of the Coppa Italia between Napoli and Juventus in June achieved the best audience of the season with 10.2 million viewers and a market share of 39.3 per cent on Rai 1, which is three million more viewers than the 2019 final.

Another highly anticipated competition, the Champions League, made its comeback in August in a new format. The final between Paris Saint Germain and Bayern Munich got the best sports audience of the season in France and Germany.

In the 2019/20 season, six of the top ten sports audiences of the season were for Coppa Italia games, according to Glance.

The winter sports narrowly escaped the lockdown, with only a few final events cancelled at the beginning of the health crisis. In Austria, Slovenia, Norway, Poland and Sweden, TV viewing of winter sports accounted for over 40 per cent of all sports viewed between September 2019 and August 2020. 


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