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Yorkshire World Championships sees record-breaking television audiences

Joe Robinson
27 Jan 2020

A 31% increase sees Yorkshire Worlds most watched in history

A record-breaking television audience of 329 million witnessed the UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire last September. That total came from 124 countries and tuned into the week-long event with a global increase of 31% on the previous year's event, up from 250 million viewers of the 2018 Worlds in Innsbruck, Austria.

The 2019 event, based in the spa town of Harrogate, was also broadcast to 24 more countries than the year before.

The increase was helped along by home broadcaster, the BBC, providing live coverage of all 12 events and extensive coverage in popular cycling nations such as Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. 

This increased coverage saw the number of broadcast hours rise by 38%, year-on-year, with a combined 7,089 hours of coverage from the Yorkshire Worlds.

The 2019 event was only the fourth occasion in which the United Kingdom had held a road World Championships and the first time since Goodwood in 1982.

Talking on the viewing figure, Welcome to Yorkshire commercial director Peter Dodd said it proved that hosting the event had put Harrogate and Yorkshire into the shop window for future events and investment.

'These figures are really impressive and it’s fair to say the eyes of the world were on Yorkshire during those nine days of action,' said Dodd.

'The footage showcased some of the very best scenery we have to offer and we’re sure it will have inspired many people across the globe – cyclists and non-cyclists alike – to come and sample our great county for themselves.'

While the uplift in television audiences may point towards success, reaction on the ground in the aftermath painted a different picture.

Poor weather saw fewer roadside spectators than predicted with many local Harrogate-based businesses reporting financial loses during the week of the Worlds, subsequently seeing the town agree to take a hiatus from hosting cycling events for the foreseeable future.

This decision also came despite other local establishments reporting large uplifts in profits and growth thanks to the extra tourism provided by hosting the World Championships.