"Wiggins effect" boosts Olympic cycling audience

UCI releases viewership statistics

The UCI today announced the preliminary figures for viewership of the 2012 Olympic Games cycling events, citing the "Bradley Wiggins effect" as a reason for unusually large audiences. After Wiggins won the Tour de France, home fans flocked to the London-Surrey road race course or watched on television in the millions to witness the British team competing for the gold medal.

While Team GB was ultimately unsuccessful in winning with Mark Cavendish - he never made the front group from which gold medal winner Alexandre Vinokourov emerged - it was estimated that nearly half of the total audience in his home country was watching the finish of the men's road race live: the number of people viewing the event reached a peak of 5.7 million on the BBC's regular channels.

In addition, users of the BBC's "red button" service, which allowed viewers access to multiple sports on 24 additional live channels, peaked at 1.4 million viewers, while a total of 17 million tuned into the cycling channel for at least 15 minutes.

When Wiggins secured his gold medal in the time trial, there were 6.2 million viewers tuned into BBC1 with an additional 648,000 viewing via the "red button".

Internet streaming added another 729,000 viewers - second only to tennis - and 531,000 more watched the men's road race.

No data was announced for the women's road race or time trial by the UCI.

Track cycling events were even more popular in a country where the home team won seven of 10 possible gold medals. When Sir Chris Hoy claimed his historic gold in the men's keirin, there were 9.8 million viewers on BBC channels, with similar numbers for when Victoria Pendleton lost out to Anna Meares in the women's sprint final, and for Laura Trott's gold in the women's omnium earlier in the night.

Audience figures for the BMX and Mountain Bike events have yet to be announced, while the international viewership is set to be announced within the year.

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