The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is delighted to announce excellent TV ratings – achieved in partnership with Eurovision Sport and its commercial arm, Eurovision Services – at the 2020 UCI Road World Championships in Imola, Emilia-Romagna (Italy), held on 24-27 September.

The number of live hours viewed in key markets* for the four Elite races was up 22% on last year (from 39.6 million in 2019 to 48.4 million this year). In France, Italy, Poland and Slovenia, hours viewed almost doubled and, in Switzerland, they nearly tripled.

The 2020 UCI Road World Championships were one of the most challenging of all-time – both for the riders, national teams and for the organizers, who were faced with a last-minute change in venue. Coronavirus restrictions in Switzerland meant the race was re-located to Imola in Italy with less than a month to set up.

Eurovision Sport ensured the race was broadcast free-to-air by 18 public service broadcasters, with Eurosport providing additional distribution throughout Europe.

Both the Women Elite road race (26 September) and the Men Elite road race (27 September) were the most successful of the last four years (up 75% and 54% respectively on 2017 figures, for instance, in terms of hours viewed). The Women’s race attracted a 50% market share of television viewers in Flemish-speaking Belgium and over 14% in the rest of Belgium and in Denmark, Slovenia, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The Men’s race had a huge 67% share of the television audience in Flemish-speaking Belgium, with peak audiences of over 1.3 million across the country and in the Netherlands.

Eurovision Services acted as host broadcaster and distribution partner for the event, providing coverage from 18 cameras, using three relay aeroplanes, two helicopters, four motorcycles and an RF camera. Innovations such as the use of slow-motion cameras capturing 2,500 frames per second provided for some spectacular shots of the riders’ emotions as they reached the finish line. Bringing his considerable skills to bear in the production process was Jean-Maurice Ooghe, the former Tour de France production director, a position he held with distinction for over 20 years through to 2019.

UCI President David Lappartient said: “These excellent figures come as reward for all the hard work undertaken with the Organising Committee and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) in delivering very high quality production that showed the races, riders, sponsors, the region of Emilia-Romagna and the town of Imola at their very best.

“Despite a very short preparation time, the UCI was able to rely on the professionalism and determination of all its partners and thanks them for that.

“The 2020 UCI Road World Championships in Imola, Emilia-Romagna provided the perfect showcase for cycling both in Europe and around the world and allowed us to attract new audiences.

“These figures are the latest in a series of excellent ratings for all the events on the 2020 UCI International Calendar held to date, among them the Tour de France and several major Classics, reflecting the public’s growing interest in our sport.”

Frédéric Sanz, Head of Cycling, Eurovision Sport, said: “We would like to congratulate the UCI and the Organising Committee of the 2020 UCI Road World Championships in Imola for organising such a fantastic event in the space of just a few weeks.

“Both Eurovision Sport and Eurovision Services are thrilled and proud to have contributed to the success of this event with our innovative production and extensive distribution of the footage throughout Europe.

“Thanks to the unrivalled combination of EBU Members’ national coverage in 18 key cycling countries together with the wide pan-European coverage provided by Eurosport, the competition has generated record ratings that will hopefully benefit all stakeholders including, of course, the UCI, the Organising Committee and the Emilia-Romagna region, the riders and the national teams, the sponsors and the local and regional authorities. This is a win-win situation and we are very proud to have been a part of it.”

Marco Tinnirello, CEO, Eurovision Services, said: “Setting up a host broadcasting operation from scratch less than a month before the event was an immense challenge. But thanks to their experience and excellent contacts, our team were unfazed by this. I was particularly pleased to see their hard work rewarded by the many compliments on social media specifically about the production.”

Eurovision Sport offers audiences across Europe first-class free-to-air coverage of cycling thanks to its long-standing rights agreements, in particular with the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) for its various UCI World Championships; with ASO for the Tour de France and a number of other prestigious races such as the Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Paris-Nice and the Critérium du Dauphiné; and with Unipublic for La Vuelta Ciclista a España.

* Based on live-coverage data provided by 14 broadcasters (VRT, RTBF, CT, DKTV2, FT, ZDF, RAI, NOS, SVT, SSR, TVP, SKRTV, RTVSLO and BBC) – Sources: EBU – members’ data/national TAM providers.