WSBK’s worldwide television audience grew by 33% from the 2009 to 2010 season. According to Infront, the “championship reached a cumulative audience of 498 million” for the 2010 season, meaning each WSBK race garnered around 40 million viewers. While still a considerably smaller number than MotoGP, which claims around 300 million viewers for each race, this is the sort of jump in audience that makes sponsorship dollars appear more easily. The official WSBK website had “a 30% increase of unique visitors compared to 2009,”with a total of four million individual visitors in 2010.
Though the overall television audience grew by 33%, the live television audience grew by a smaller percentage of 18%. It should be noted though that the live audience figure is not something determined necessarily by fans, but by the contracts between Infront and the various international broadcasters. As an example, there is no live coverage of WSBK in the United States on the SPEED channel. Even MotoGP only began receiving something approaching live coverage on that network for the 2010 season.
Live coverage or not, the most important news for WSBK is what the increased audience can do for sponsorships in the series. As the audience grows, WSBK’s attractiveness to companies beyond Western Europe grows as well. A growing television and online audience could attract more companies willing to invest in what otherwise could be considered a frivolous pursuit, and more sponsors can be wooed by logical appeals to their pocketbooks. Accordingly, these numbers are heartening for those involved in the sport.
As noted by Infront CEO Paolo Flammini, “The worldwide broadcast distribution and audience figures for the 2010 FIM Superbike World Championship clearly demonstrate the value of the series as a communication platform for established as well as upcoming brands. Its growing fan base and outreach of the motor sport series provide sponsors with an effective platform for targeting an attractive demographic within sport.” Still, one should look at them warily as they have been released by the group most likely to benefit from their positive nature.