The Tour de France is good for cycling
Velo News has done a rough analysis of the very positive numbers coming out of this years Tour de France - fortunately not the positives we usually think about - it was all crowd numbers, television audiences and print media, all of which appear to have experienced solid increases, and in the case of bike sales there is anecdotal evidence that, doping or not, the Tour is good for anything connected to cycling.
I was also very interested in web viewing numbers, knowing that my own blog stats showed some big increases - something I'm sure all cycling blogs experienced.
If the numbers are to be believed, the Tour's worldwide audience on the Web rivals that of television. Versus.com is reported that its unique visitors for of its Tour coverage are up 15 percent to 1.4 million, and total page visits grew 8 percent to 3.9 million.
At VeloNews.com, unique visitors to the site were up 15 percent to some 4.4 million, with page views up 11 percent to 32 million. Online video views on VeloNews TV grew from 1.1 million views a year ago to 1.3 million views this year.
I compared my blog (Spinopsys) stats over the duration of the Tour to a similar period last month (my biggest month ever) and saw raw visits increase 42%, absolute uniques up 47%, page views to 60%, time on site up 11% to over 6 minutes and pages viewed per visit increased 12%. There is more like this when I drill down further.
A simple explanation for the increase in interest could be the quality of the live television coverage of the event combined with the broadcast skills of Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwan.
Cycling is a difficult sport to explain to the ordinary sports fan, and though Phil and Paul may sometimes drive many hard core cycling fans nuts with their commentary, they manage to explain and describe the action in a way that even the most cursory sports fan can understand - they make cycling's complexities accessible and easily digestible.
Cycling is also a difficult sport to broadcast technically and ASO has invested heavily in getting that just right. The closeup of the final sprint down the Champs d'Elysées was an awesome display of this and it brought a whole new dimension to the viewing experience. National networks have obliged and taken this quality coverage to the living rooms of general sports fans who now have a greater understanding of cycling.
Looking broadly at this expanded media attention not only is the Tour de France good for blogs, networks and newspapers it's great for cycling and impacts on anything related to it, ultimately it looks like more is more.