Nielsen Sports predicts the most watched Cheltenham Festival in ten years, boosting sponsorship values by up to 25%

Nielsen Sports has forecast that the 2021 Cheltenham Festival will receive its biggest viewership in a decade

Potential for a 25% jump in sponsorship value expected due to an increased volume of live race broadcasts on FTA

Significant event for betting brands with 37% of sponsorship exposure at the 2020 festival coming from eight different betting brands, receiving four hours total brand exposure

Increased values expected to add over £1.1million to the total cumulative sponsorship value generated

Nielsen Sports, the global leader in sports industry measurement, valuation, and analytics, expects the Cheltenham Festival to receive its biggest audience for ten years in 2021. In response to the ongoing national lockdown meaning fans are unable to attend the live event, Cheltenham has planned an increase in broadcast output via free-to-air (FTA) programming.

Six of the seven daily races will be televised for the first time this year, as opposed to the traditional five. The festival is also targeting a reduced time between races, 35 minutes down from the typical 40, to engage an entirely at-home audience more effectively. The new broadcast plans are expected to increase value to sponsors by up to 25%, according to Nielsen Sports’ valuation.

In 2020, 37% of Cheltenham’s total sponsorship exposure was generated by eight different betting brands, generating over four hours of total brand exposure. With the value increases predicted for 2021 by Nielsen Sports, a further £1.1million could be added to the total cumulative sponsorship value.

The cumulative average TV audience for Cheltenham was 3.7million last year. On top of the FTA broadcast plans, Nielsen Sports’ estimate factors in a potential 250,000-person increase in TV viewership due to fans who cannot attend in person in 2021 as well as an increase in in-home viewership due to the government’s work from home advice.

Cheltenham is also the biggest week of the year for the betting sector. It is estimated that over £500million will be wagered on races during this year’s event. The continued closure of betting shops mean that companies will be focusing on their “watch and bet from home” strategy, further feeding the likelihood of a surge in total viewership.

Andy Milnes, Head of Client Service at Nielsen Sports, said: “We expect to see record numbers of people watching the Cheltenham Festival at home this year. The festival has responded well to its first occasion of going behind closed doors by televising more of its live races. This combined with a reduction in waiting time between the races should attract a huge amount of people to follow the festival on TV.

“This is a very attractive situation for sponsors. With increased broadcast output to a potentially record-breaking audience, we expect to see a significant rise in sponsorship value for brands.”

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