As one of the world’s most well-known bicycle races kicks off this weekend, a recent study by Nielsen Sports has tracked the growing interest of cycling around the world, most notably in the Asian region.
Of the markets measured, Hong Kong has experienced the largest shift in interest in cycling, growing from 39% among consumers in 2013 to 48% today. Japan has seen the second highest growth over the same period, where the popularity of cycling has jumped by seven percentage points, from 14% to 21% today.
China is the third biggest grower in terms of national interest in the sport. Chinese interest in cycling has grown six percentage points, from 19% in 2013 to 25% of the population today.
The growth in Chinese interest is something sport’s rights owners are already taking advantage of. Notably, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) recently announced a new Chinese World Tour race, the Tour of Guangxi, which starts this October later this year. The Tour is set to run for at least the next three years. The Tour de France criterium and the Etape China by le Tour de France are also making an entry into China in 2017.
“We’re seeing a significant spike in interest in cycling across the region with numerous events being staged, especially in China,” said Claude Ringuet, son of a professional tour rider and Managing Director for Nielsen Sports in Southeast Asia and Greater China. “Increased investment and activation from the world’s top cycling brands targeting the region, a growing middle class, increased investment in cycling infrastructure and the staging of major cycling events have all contributed to this growth we’re seeing. The growth in both interest and steady participation increases are insights essential for both brands and rights owners looking to capitalize on this growth in public interest in the sport.”
Since 2013, France’s interest in cycling has grown six percentage points, rising from 34% to 40% today. Italian interest is also up, increasing from 40% to 43% today, and Spain’s national interest in the sport now sits at 46%, up two percentage points since 2013.
Large population markets like the U.S., Russia and India are all included in cycling’s top 10 growth markets by interest, which is additional good news for the sport ahead of the Tour de France this weekend.
The data comes from Nielsen Sports’ Sports DNA, the world’s largest syndicated sports research survey, which twice a year aggregates the responses of 1,000 people aged 16-69 in each of the 33 international markets monitored. The survey also shows interest growth in cycling’s heartland markets.