The 2017 IBU Biathlon Championships in Hochfilzen, Austria, came to an end on a high note last Sunday. With 315 athletes from 37 nations participating, a record-breaking number of viewers tuned in to watch the competition.
With excellent organisation and perfect weather conditions, the Championships attracted more than 140,000 spectators on-site and increased television audiences across the globe.
The average audience and market share in some key biathlon territories such as France peaked, with l'Equipe reaching an unprecedented audience of more than 1.5 million viewers, putting it to the top of their transmission records. In Germany, one of the keenest biathlon nations, audiences figures rose beyond 5 million at several times during the event and was, at all times, above its 30% market share. Norway also enjoyed excellent market shares encouraged by a strong national presence; and even countries such as Sweden and Finland, with fewer podiums than they hoped, still reached exceptional audience market shares of more than 50%, demonstrating the growth of biathlon sport.
A total of more than 8 million live viewers in Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and France watched the Pursuits and Mass Starts competitions over the two weekends, a 25% increase compared to the last two World Championships, and up 50% on 2013.
IBU President Anders Besseberg said: "We have had the most exiting and thrilling World Championships in the history of biathlon. The success of the Championships was due to many factors. The fantastic weather and the excellent work of the Organizing Committee offered athletes optimal and absolutely equal conditions which meant, no matter whether you started at number 1 or 100, you had the same fair chance to win, which seldom happens. Another success factor was the fantastic crowd of biathlon fans from many nations who turned this highlight of the season into a real winter festival of biathlon.
"But it was not only the more than 140,000 in the stadium who could follow this 'thriller on snow'. The Host Broadcaster ORF, with Michael Kögler, did a fantastic job in ensuring that millions of TV viewers also could follow the unforgettable drama that took place in Hochfilzen."
Stefan Kuerten, Director of Eurovision Services & Sports Rights at the EBU added: “An ongoing willingness to develop the sport has brought biathlon to where it is today. Through a long standing partnership based on trust, shared experiences and close cooperation between the Federation and free-to-air television, biathlon has become one of the most popular winter sports. The EBU is proud to be part of this successful story with the IBU and is always looking to improve and grow the quality and popularity of the sport. It is with great pleasure that we look not only onwards but also upwards."