8 July 2014 | Team Tamar

Has the world got bored of the Tour de France?

tour-de-france-top-ways-the-race-has-changed-crash-130619Even the most ardent anti-sports people will be hard-pressed to disagree that 2014 is an impressive year for sports.

With the World Cup, Winter Oympics and Commonwealth Games all making a massive impact on our senses, plus annual events like Wimbledon, the Marathon, boat race and more ensuring that almost every sporting fan is catered for.

As you’ll know if you’ve been following us here at Tamar, we’re spending a lot of time analysing how this year of sport is playing out online. And so far, all signs seem to be positive.

The Winter Olympics made a huge impact on Twitter in particular, and the World Cup is breaking tweeting records left right and centre.

So when it came to taking a look at the Tour de France, we were shocked at what we discovered.

Whilst the world’s most famous bike race has generated a fair amount of ‘buzz’ here in the UK – undoubtedly thanks to this year’s Yorkshire first stage – we’ve yet to see anywhere near the interest in the race as we have done in previous years.

And before you cry fowl and tell us that it’s only just begun, take a look at the following graph showing Google search-user interest in the TdF over the past ten years:

tdf-interest-worldwide

As you can see, interest in the tournament has consistently reduced each year over the past decade (with a couple of minor blips in the middle). It’s the same when you drill down to the USA:

tdf-interest-usa

Surely that can’t be true of France though, the home of the race? Well, there isn’t a drop per-say, but it certainly isn’t growing:

tdf-interest-france

In fact, browsing through all the different options in Google Trends (where this data was sourced) it would seem that virtually the only country where interest is growing is here in the UK:

tdf-interest-uk

So what has lead to this decrease in popularity? With so much interest in the cycling during the London 2012 Olympics, you’d have thought that the sport was more popular than ever? Well, most commentators actually agree that it is – we’ve seen evidence of this popularity growth ourselves.

So it doesn’t seem to be cycling that is losing the world’s interest, it’s the Tour de France in particular.

Could the actions of ‘drug-shame’ cyclists like Lance Armstrong have damaged the credibility of the race? It seems likely that they’ll have had an impact.

For a bit of context, here’s the Worldwide trends over the same period for some other popular sporting events:

tdf-interest-worldwide-bowl

tdf-interest-worldwide-wimb

tdf-interest-worldwide-worl

As you can see, the World Cup, the American Superbowl and the Wimbledon tennis tournament have all seen stable interest over the last decade, with the World Cup actually seeing growth each time.

So there we have it – clearly the world HAS gotten bored of the Tour de France over the past 10 years. Whilst excitement on social media would appear to be building momentum this week, it seems likely that 2014 will see that trend continue.

So what can the organisers do to reverse the fate of this once-great sporting event? Hopefully they’ll figure out the answer soon, before it’s too late.

Team Tamar