As the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships draw to a close in St. Moritz, Switzerland, broadcasters are reporting an unprecedented number of viewers.
With weather conditions leading to changes in the competition schedule on Sunday 12 February, the International Ski Federation, FIS, and the EBU, on behalf of its Members, joined forces and pushed for more impactful scheduling. A 'Super Winter Sports Sunday' was created with the two Downhill competitions (Ladies and Mens) taking place consecutively. This was preceded and followed by two competitions from the IBU Biathlon World Championships in Austria for which the EBU also holds the rights.
Super Sunday resulted in audiences for the Men's and Ladies' Downhill last Sunday exceeding expectations and reaching an average audience of 6.5 million television viewers in the major ski markets (Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland) for the first time. In Austria, the average audience grew from 800,000 at the 2013 World Championships (which took place in Austria) to 1.4 million on Super Sunday – a 61% increase. In Germany, the largest market in Europe, the average number of viewers increased by 25% from 2.8 million in 2011, when the Championships were in Germany, to an average of more than 3.6 million viewers.
Furthermore, EBU Members in the major key ski nations showed more than 31 hours of live programming of last Sunday's two Downhill competitions, a 34% increase on the 2013 World Championships, confirming European viewers appetite for live sports.
Super Sunday skiing also brought exceptional results in the USA where the broadcast on NBC and NBC Sports Network showed an increase in 10% on the numbers compared with 2015 when the event took place in Vail/Beaver Creek, the USA time zone.
Sarah Lewis, Secretary General of FIS, said: "FIS is delighted with such extensive broadcast coverage facilitated by the EBU and of the outstanding images produced by the host broadcaster, Swiss television, which have shown thrilling competitions and given the athletes the prominence their great performances deserve. With outstanding snow and weather conditions in the beautiful scenery of St. Moritz, the wide-ranging coverage of the FIS Alpine World Championships will hopefully inspire youngsters in the sport and encourage new skiers to take up the sport."
Ingolfur Hannesson, EBU/Eurovision Head of Winter Sports, added: "These incredible figures demonstrate the strength of the our approach and the excellent cooperation with FIS. More compact sports programming helps maximize the exposure and reach through our various channels. We are delighted with these results which demonstrate the increasing appetite for skiing amongst viewers and the benefit of clever scheduling for the broadcasters, FIS and the sport of Ski Racing."