Tour de France Hits Six-Year Ratings High for Eurosport

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The channel owned by France's TF1 Group and Discovery Communications saw 17.1 million European viewers tune in for the opening stages of the world's top cycling race.

BERLIN – Lance Armstrong's revelations and professional cycling's ever-growing doping scandals haven't hurt ratings for this year's Tour de France in Europe.

Eurosport, the pan-European sports channel owned by France's TF1 Group and Discovery Communications, has recorded its best-ever start for the Tour since 2007, with 17.1 million viewers turning in for the race's opening stages. The figure marks a 50 percent jump over Eurosport's audience during a similar period in the 2012 race.

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The world's most famous cycling race celebrates is 100th anniversary this year, and part of the ratings bump is likely due to the widespread media attention for the historic event. But it also fits into a general growth pattern at Eurosport, which enjoyed one of the strongest first halves of the year in its history.

More than 140 million viewers tuned in for the live coverage of the winter sports World Cup on Eurosport and Eurosport 2 this year, a 5 percent jump compared to the same period in 2012. Also, 18 million fans watched Eurosport's round-the-clock live coverage of the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans road race, 12 percent more than last year.