Warner Bros. Discovery Sports (WBDS), the sports division of the multinational media and entertainment giant, has today (June 7) announced record audience growth for its television, streaming, and online channels.
Its linear television audiences are up 10% year on year and streaming viewers by nearly a quarter (24%) from 2021.
The figures follow the confirmation in April of Discovery’s acquisition of WarnerMedia for over $40 billion.
Audiences for the WBDS-owned Eurosport sports broadcaster and its free-to-air networks in Europe that present live sport have seen significant growth in its major markets of France (+23%), Italy (+19%), Poland (+18%), Spain (+46%), and the UK (+12%).
In addition, sports coverage across WBDS’ channels has seen an average 12% rise in audience share.
The Discovery+ platform has seen the greatest growth in the firm’s streaming portfolio, with 50% more unique viewers for sports now than 12 months ago, more than double the number of sports video views (149%), and more the triple (213%) the number of minutes streamed for sport.
Across WBDS’ streaming platforms, video views have increased by 49% year on year.
Online, Eurosport.com and its local websites across Europe saw a 30% rise in unique monthly visitors to over 67 million in February over the preceding 12 months.
Free video views via online platforms nearly doubled (+96%), with minutes viewed increasing in a similar order (+82%).
The social media accounts of Discovery+ Sport and Eurosport, meanwhile, saw their combined reach double (+100%) and user interactions (+151%) and video views (+142%) more than double.
WBDS says the growth in audience and engagement has been driven by a strong line-up of live sport in 2022 so far, which has included the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, tennis’ Australian Open and French Open grand slams (with Wimbledon ongoing), the road cycling season and the Giro d’Italia grand tour.
It has also pointed to the acquisition of new rights, including mixed martial arts’ UFC and Cage Warriors and motorcycling’s Speedway GP, which builds on the involvement of the Discovery Sports Events promoter in the sport.
Significantly, in May, WBDS also agreed a joint venture with UK telecoms powerhouse BT Group to create a new premium sport offering for the UK and Ireland. Through the agreement, the BT Sport pay-television business will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of WBD, helping it to kick on to further gains.
Andrew Georgiou, president and managing director for WBDS Europe, said: “The significant growth in audience and engagement we’ve seen this year is a testament to our strategy of making content available in whatever way viewers choose to watch.
“Throughout Europe, we are unique in how we are able to engage audiences across our free-to-air, pay-TV, and streaming platforms – serving all audience segments, from diehard to more casual fans and ‘big eventers’. In this way, we’ve continued to grow our television audiences whilst also seeing a rapid rise in people streaming live sport on Discovery+ and our digital services.”