Cycling draws the BBC’s largest audience during Olympics

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Over 11 million people tuned in to watch Laura Trott and Jason Kenny bring home Gold for Team GB in the women’s Omnium and men’s keirin, respectively, on Tuesday 16 August on BBC One – the highest audience of the entire Olympic Games.

Trumping even the London 2012 figures achieved as Chris Hoy stormed the podium, cycling was a clear audience favourite among viewers.

In France, channel 3 saw a 4.7 million peak audience during the women’s road race on Sunday 7 August – the 5th best audience of the Games in France. More than 4 million viewers also tuned in to France 2 for the BMX semi-final on Friday 19 August – just 2 million less than the Games high in France of 6.1 million who watched judoka, Teddy Riner, retain his Olympic title.

Strong broadcast figures were also achieved in Germany, with 4.2 million viewers watching the finale of the women’s road race and 4.5 million tuning in to watch the women’s mountain bike cross-country, which reflected an 18.4% audience share.

Viewing figures were up on London 2012 on NRK1 in Norway with 411,121 watching the climax of the men’s road race compared to 373,866 who tuned in in 2012.

Social Media

Hashtags once again formed the basis for watching social trends, with #cyclingtrack topping the pile with 165,740 tweets, just ahead of the #BMX, which racked up 161,796 tweets. These figures are many times higher than interest in the road and MTB events, which racked up 66,895 and 11,793 tweets, respectively, perhaps indicating a younger demographic’s interest in the games.

The UCI’s global fan base grew by 5% during Rio 2016 to 1.5 million – almost double the usual growth rate over a two-week period.

UCI President Brian Cookson, said: “We are delighted with the success of Rio 2016 across all four cycling disciplines and I would like to thank and congratulate the International Olympic Committee and Rio 2016 Organising Committee for their support and the delivery of a spectacular Games.

“The Olympic Games provides a unique opportunity for all sports to reach new audiences and for us it is encouraging to see these really high TV audience figures and strong levels of global engagement across social and digital media platforms. It demonstrates the attractiveness and accessibility of our sports across its Olympic disciplines and beyond.”