Tour de France turning a corner as fan interest builds

Le Tour de France fan interest 2015 Repucom

Following Chris Froome’s win at the 2015 Tour de France, Repucom, the trusted advisors in sports and entertainment intelligence have released figures showing the growing fan base of the event.

Between the 2012 and 2015 races, international interest has in some cases significantly grown with the largest shifts being seen in countries such as the US (four percentage point increase), Italy (eight percentage point increase) and the UAE (12 percentage point increase).

Interest in Italy in the Tour (30%) now joins France (32%), The Netherlands (33%) and Spain (38%) as those markets which have at least 30% of the domestic population who say they are interested in the event. Today, of the eleven markets tested, international interest in the Tour de France has jumped to 23%, up from 20% in 2012.

Danny Townsend on the rise of interest in the Tour de France

Rise of sponsorship deals

This increasing global popularity for the event is also being mirrored in the rise of sponsorship deals. This year is the first time in the Tour’s history where five brands are included within the highest sponsorship tier, including Skoda, LCL, Carrefour, Krys and Vittel.

As well those sponsors who are upgrading their partner status with the event, the Tour is also attracting new international sponsors, such as South African IT firm, Dimension Data having signed a five year deal in March this year to become the Tour’s Official Technology Partner. One key area of this relationship is to work to improve the TV broadcast experience for viewers, central to the efforts to reengage fans, grow viewership and in turn, sponsorship revenues.

Growth in international fan bases

Mike Wragg, Executive Vice President Market Research, Repucom, said:

“These figures show that whilst the Tour de France is growing in appeal globally, it remains a much loved event in its more traditional heartlands of central and southern Europe.

“The rise in fan interest internationally, especially in markets such as the UAE, provides some crucial clues as to potential future investors into the Tour and the sport more generally. Investment in sport in the UAE and across the region has boomed in the last five years and we’re now seeing this reflected in the growth of fan bases. The knock on effect, as we have seen with European football for example, is that events like the Tour de France could now become more appealing to sponsors from Middle East markets.

“The growth in international fan bases shows what a great prospect the Tour is for sponsors today and will be ahead of the 2016 event next year. Following the doping scandals that rocked cycling over the last 10 years, we’re now seeing that the sport is turning a corner, both in terms of fan interest and in terms of sponsorship appeal. We expect the 2016 event to attract even more international interest, an event that today represents a great opportunity for brands to engage or even to reengage with.”

International interest in the Tour de France 2015

One of the stand out annual sporting events

Fan interest in France remains stable, although the results show that national interest has dropped only very slightly in the last three years by one percentage point. One other drop in domestic fan bases comes from The Netherlands, where in 2012 38% of the population were interested in the Tour, compared to 33% today – although it still remains the second most interested market after Spain.

However, Germany is another market which has seen an increase in population interest towards the Tour, growing from 18% in 2012 to 19% today. The new deal for domestic broadcaster ARD in 2015, combined with the sponsorship of Bora, the first German sponsor of a national pro team since 2010 as well as the two German teams competing this year demonstrates that this market is certainly reengaging with the event. As the riders pass the iconic Champs-Élysées on Sunday, it is clear that the Tour de France is once again becoming one of the stand out annual events for both international fan bases and sponsors alike.

International interest in the Tour de France (May 2012 vs. May 2015)

Tour de France: international interest

Source: Sports DNA May 2012 wave vs. Sports DNA May 2015 wave. Interest is measured on those responding they are “interested” or “very interested” in the Tour de France.

Base: 1000 respondents aged 16-69 across 11 international markets (FR, DE, IT, JP, MY, SA, ESP, UAE, UK, US, ND). Some data from May 2015 is predicted based on preliminary results and so could be subject to minor changes, although unlikely.