The Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 has delivered big increases in audience across television, online, radio and print, figures from external research released in the Mid Race Report show.

The cumulative TV audience as of February 19 was 880 million based on 1,200 hours of coverage, in both dedicated programming and news items largely based on the compelling content being sent via the Media Crew Member programme. Those figures compare with a cumulative audience of 459 million at the corresponding stage of the last race, representing a 90 percent increase.

The biggest total audience came from China. During Leg 3 alone, there were 81 TV broadcasts in China, watched by an average of 2.5 million. The most watched was on CCTV1 and was seen by an estimated 12.5 million. Spain, which has been a particular cross-platform success story in this race, had the highest number of broadcasts, followed by the United States and China.

In the top eight measured countries, the cumulative radio audience was of almost 800 million to March 10. France was at the top of the list, delivering an audience of over 285 million, followed by China, Spain and the UAE, with New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland and the United Kingdom rounding out the top eight.

There were more than 35 million visits, providing 110 million page views, to the Volvo Ocean Race official website and the Volvo Ocean Race Game website. In terms of cumulative page views at the official race website, by the start of Leg 5 the number was 16 percent higher than the total for the entire last Race.

The number of articles published across the internet was also above the total for the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09, with 30,651 registered from October 10, 2011 to March 18, 2012 compared to 30,468 for the whole of the last race.

The number of print articles monitored in publications in 15 markets was also up to 4,249, while showing a 45 percent increase in cumulative print readership reach over the pre-Race period and Legs 1-3 compared to 2008-09.

"A major part of our strategy has been to increase the level of news coverage of the 2011-12 race across the media," said Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad.

"I have been especially pleased with the breadth and scale of online news coverage about the race and it is great to see that we have already passed the total number of online news articles published during our last edition."

The Race has also reported big growth on Facebook, with the 111,299 likes recorded as of March 18 this year making the Volvo Ocean Race comfortably the biggest sailing event on the platform.

Another focus for Race organisers has been to raise the quality and level of entertainment at the stopovers along the route.

The popularity of the Race Villages saw 1.3 million visits to the first four host ports — Alicante, Cape Town, Abu Dhabi and Sanya in China.

"Together with our great host city partners we have been pleased to see visitors spending more time in the Race Villages and coming back for more," said Frostad. "There’s still a long way to go to the finish and we are determined to continue to improve our numbers and to reach an all-time high on all platforms."

The report’s release comes as the teams prepare for the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race in Miami on Saturday, May 19 and the start of Leg 7 to Lisbon the following day. The Race will finish in Galway on July 7.
SOURCE: Volvo Ocean Race & WOS Team