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Volume 6 No. 211


The U.K.’s "amazing year of sport" was reflected in attendances of more than 75 million at professional sports events during '12, according to analysis by the Deloitte Sports Business Group. This was reinforced by huge TV audiences for the London Games and Paralympic Games, and other established annual sporting events. Deloitte Sports Business Group partner Dan Jones commented: "The demand and passion for sport in the U.K. was reflected in the 11 million tickets sold for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games. When added to the 64 million attendees at other professional U.K. sport events, there was a total of 75 million visits to sporting events across the U.K. in 2012. The British public’s appetite for attending sporting events, in absolute terms and relative to its population size, is unmatched anywhere in the world." This year has also seen huge TV viewing figures as sport dominated the list of most watched programs. Jones added: "Twenty million people watched Usain Bolt win the Olympic 100m in London, while there were over 6 million viewers of Jonnie Peacock’s victory in the T44 100m at the Paralympic Games." Outside of the Games, the top-10 attended sporting events had a combined attendance of 2.4 million, and include many of the world’s great sporting occasions. Horseracing and equestrian events accounted for five of the top-10 attended U.K. sporting events. The year '12 was a golden year for tennis with Andy Murray winning Great Britain’s first Grand Slam since '36, to add to his Olympic Gold and Silver medals. Jones added: "Wimbledon continues to be the country’s highest attended sporting event" (Deloitte).

  • Football contributed more than 42 million of total sports attendances.
  • The Premier League is second only to the Bundesliga as the highest attended domestic league in Europe.
  • Both codes of rugby recorded increased total attendances in '11-12, continuing the strong growth of recent years.
Top 10 Attended Sporting Events In The U.K. In '12
Event (duration in days)
Attendance (000's)
1. Wimbledon (13)
2. F1 at Silverstone (3)
3. Royal Ascot (5)
4. ATP World Tour Finals (8)
5. Cheltenham Festival (4)
6. The Open (4)
7. Burghley Horse Trials (4)
8. Epsom Derby meeting (2)
9. Aintree Grand National meeting (3)
10. MotoGP at Silverstone (3)

Selected Viewing Figures For U.K. Staged Sporting Events In '12
Peak audience*
Olympic Games
Opening Ceremony
BBC 27.3
Olympic Games
Closing Ceremony
Olympic Games
Men's 100m final
BBC  20.0
Olympic Games
Men's 10,000m final
BBC  17.1
Wimbledon Men's final
BBC  16.9
Paralympic Games
Opening Ceremony
Grand National
BBC 10.9
Paralympic Games
Men's T44 100m final (Jonnie Peakcock)
Premier League - Man City vs. ManU
Sky 4.4
British Grand Prix
BBC and Sky
* In millions

BT Sport "has named Sunset+Vine as the production company" for its showcase of 38 live Premier League games that start next season, according to Charles Sale of the London DAILY MAIL. This follows a second tender after BT’s original preferred production partner ITV Sport’s London studios were not "considered a spacious or exclusive enough location to present the matches which have cost BT £738M ($1.2B) to acquire." The choice of Sunset+Vine "will go a great way to compensate for the company missing out to IMG Media for the Channel Four racing contract" for which it had been strong favorites. Sunset+Vine "will also produce BT’s live rugby union Aviva Premiership package of 69 games per season and other sports programming" (DAILY MAIL, 12/19). In London, Mark Sweney reported "finalising the production contract, which will see Jake Humphrey front broadcasts from the Int'l Broadcast Centre in the Olympic Park in Stratford, London, is a critical step in BT's plan to challenge BSkyB's dominance of U.K. pay-TV sport." The contract "is thought to be worth between £100M ($162.7M) and £132M ($214.7M) over three years." BT said that "it intends to work with other production company partners across other sports programming deals it seals before the launch of two pay-TV channels next summer" (GUARDIAN, 12/19).

The National Rugby League secured a new int'l TV deal with IMG Media that will guarantee access to all Telstra Premiership matches, as well as State of Origin, Test matches played in Australia, AAMI City-Country and the Harvey Norman All Stars. The five-year partnership covers free-to-air TV, subscription TV, IPTV, mobile, in-ship, in-flight and gaming rights, as well as access to the NRL Films archive. Furthermore, it will provide fans with:

  • Guaranteed TV coverage in markets such as the U.K., U.S., Pacific and Asia.
  • Access to all games in HD either through TV or online platforms, as well as access to a 30-minute weekly highlights show.
  • A free digital NRL Channel for int'l fans featuring match vision and a mobile NRL app.
  • All NRL and State of Origin matches available on a live or near-live basis via TV or online, mobile apps, smart TVs or other media platforms.
  • Int'l fans in regions where there is no TV or IPTV rights deals in place will be able to access matches for free on a leading web destination, such as YouTube or USTREAM.
The int'l rights do not include NRL properties in Australia and New Zealand, nor do they include World Cup matches or Tests overseas (NRL).

MORE COVERAGE: Meanwhile, ESPN and Euroleague Basketball announced a new agreement for hosting live and delayed coverage in the U.K. Under the new deal, fans will have access to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague with a weekly "Game of the Week." ESPN's coverage will begin on Dec. 27 (Euroleague Basketball).