WRC woos global TV elite

WRC Promoter will spotlight 2018’s gripping FIA World Rally Championship title fight when it hosts global TV executives at next week’s Sportel business convention in Monaco.

Broadcast agreements with networks in major markets are currently being finalised for the next four seasons (2019 - 2022) and WRC now offers more than 350 hours of programming to broadcast partners each year.

WRC Promoter, which owns the championship’s TV rights, will meet broadcasters on the back of two exciting seasons, following the introduction of dynamic new-generation cars, which have maintained long-term growth in audience and broadcast hours.

Sportel (22 - 24 October) is acknowledged as a must-attend event for the sports media industry and WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla believes the excitement of the last two years is a trump card in broadcaster talks.

“Fans love the more powerful and spectacular World Rally Cars and the 2017 championship was one of the most unpredictable ever. Seven different drivers representing all four manufacturer teams won rallies and this helped drive a rise in audience and broadcast hours,” he said.

“This season’s fight for the drivers title between Thierry Neuville, Sébastien Ogier and Ott Tänak is just as captivating and offers WRC media partners dramatic live action.”

Figures from analyst Nielsen Sports show 2017’s global TV audience rose to almost 850 million, a 20 per cent rise on the previous year. The figure has increased by 44 per cent since 2013.

Thierry Neuville heads a thrilling title battle ahead of the final two rounds

The number of broadcast hours soared to 13,452 last year, a 10 per cent jump from 2016. The total has risen by 127 per cent since 2013.

Ciesla also believes last week’s decision to expand the calendar from 13 to 14 rounds for 2019 will enhance the championship’s TV offering.

“We will have more and diversified programmes from additional rally weekends in the next years,” he said.

“A WRC rally will be based in Chile for the first time ever next May, and further potential expansion to countries such as Kenya and Japan would generate even more spectacular action for broadcasters and fans.

“The increased globalisation of the series is another important factor in our discussions. Our strategy to widen the WRC’s footprint outside Europe opens new markets for us to explore with broadcast partners.”

WRC Promoter has confirmed a new partnership with Pitch International Agency, which will assume responsibility for marketing the WRC rights in selected markets in Asia and Europe.

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