NRK viewing share exceeds 50 per cent as Carlsen retains World Chess title
More than half of the available television audience in Norway watched home favourite Magnus Carlsen win the World Chess Championship for the third successive time on Wednesday.
Carlsen sealed victory over Russian Sergey Karjakin following three weeks of play and a series of tiebreakers in New York, with the final day's action on NRK1, the main channel of Norway's public-service broadcaster, drawing an average 764,000 viewers. That equates to a viewing share of 56 per cent, despite the early-morning finish in Norway.
It was a chess programme audience record for NRK, beating the average 572,000 viewers that watched game 11 of the 2014 world championship when Carlsen sealed his second title.
Carlsen and Karjakin were tied after 12 regular games this year. On average, each of the 12 rounds were watched on NRK1 and NRK2 by 200,000 viewers.
Coverage of the World Chess Championship throughout November pushed NRK2's share to 7.7 per cent, up from 5.5 per cent in the comparative 2015 period.
Egil Sundvor, NRK sports editor, said: "The ratings are far above what anyone could imagine, and they show that NRK's chess team has performed the amazing feat to convey the excitement and drama of a game no one quite understands... We must thank Magnus Carlsen... He must take the main responsibility for the Norwegian people having not slept in three weeks."
A year ago, NRK acquired rights to broadcast the World Chess Championships until 2020 in a deal worth a “record” sum and representing the sport’s first-ever long-term media rights deal.
The exclusive agreement is worth a low seven-figure sum, according to Agon, the USA-based chess distribution company run by Russian Ilya Merenzon that markets the rights and organises events on behalf of FIDE, the international chess federation.
Agon has claimed that six million people worldwide followed this year's championships, which it streamed on the World Chess Championship website and in virtual reality via compatible smartphones, tablets and PCS at a charge of $15 per use.