Viewership across the Bike Channel’s television and digital platforms has surpassed 200,000 a week, the publisher has told CI.N.
Having recently struck a string of exclusive deals in the worlds of triathlon, Irish road racing and BMX racing, among other segments, the channel has in the space of just 15 months grown from a weekly average of between 10 to 20,000 to the astonishing viewership landmark.
Andrew Slater, Bike’s head of marketing and communications told CI.N: “It was only really May of 2015 when we held our main UK industry launch and at that time we had begun to rack up between 30,000 to 40,000 a week. So the trajectory to reach where we are now is rather steep.”
It was January’s Tour Down Under exclusivity that tipped the channel’s averages, says Slater.
“We often experienced peaks with big races, but securing the rights to show the Tour Down Under’s stages was a big hit for us,” says Slater. “Pairing this with shows like The Club with Ned Boulting, among many more of our popular regulars has given us an immense viewership. For 95% of those events that we secure rights we also are able to stream online, further enhancing the reach. By the end of 2017 we’ve now set a goal of reaching 300,000 a week. Online our reach has jumped from 35,000 to 60,000 this month too, so it’s achievable.”
Broadcast on Virgin Channel 552, Sky 464 and Freesat 251, the television audience is most engaged at the weekends between the hours of 9am to 3pm, something that has surprised. “That’s when people are supposed to be out riding,” jokes Slater.
Cycle clubs are among those most heavily engaged too, CI.N is told.
“25% of British Cycling’s cycle clubs applied to appear on season one of The Club and that’s all organic growth,” says Slater. “The interest from the Triathlon segment has jumped too, especially considering our rights scoop for the ITU World Triathlon Series, X-Terra and Ironman World Series.”
Commercially funded and with very few shareholders to please, the channel is driving forward new revenue streams, with specific industry commissions, product partnerships, advertising and competitions.
“We are bound by OFCOM on product placement, but if for brands looking to be involved in programs we are well versed in tying product into the narrative of the story. It’s all very informative,” says Slater on the opportunities available to industry partners. Indeed the eagle eyed among you will have noted many of I-ride’s bike stable featured in reality-style program The Coach.
Building on the success of this flagship series, the Bike Channel is exploring introducing The Coach Pro, which we are told will be a more “elite level and aspirational take on The Coach.”
“This, we think, will engage a sportier and younger demographic,” explains Slater. “The BMX tie up also helps diversify those tuning in too. Our range of programming is to expand in 2017 with an electric bike take on the successful Mountain Bike Adventures and The Challenger in the pipeline too. The latter will be a self improvement style reality show, but with a real focus on the detail of improving your performance.”
The off road crowd are engaged in greater numbers, emphasises Slater. Mountain Bike Adventures proved to be a big success for The Bike Channel, racking up 70,000 views in five weeks with an average dwell time of seven minutes per half.