'Tour de France' Cycles Solid TV, Net Ratings For Versus

Tour de France 2009 With about half of the race completed, Versus' coverage of the Tour de France has seen its ratings soar -- all linked to the return of seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong.

After the first 10 stages of the race, the network's key live morning telecasts have rocketed 77% to an average 479,800 viewers -- from 270,400 over the same period a year ago.

All key male demographics have significant improvement, with men 18-34, gaining 85%; men 18-49, a 132% hike; and men 25-54, a 98% climb.

Versus has also improved on ratings against the previous time Armstrong made an appearance in the race in 2005 -- the last of his seven victories. Average viewership for live morning telecasts is up 15% to 479,809 against 418,866. Plus, viewership among all key male viewing groups has climbed -- men 18-34, gaining 6%; men 18-49, 15% higher; and men 25-54, improving 8%.

One caveat that contributes to some of the rise: Versus is now in 75 million homes, as compared to the 60 million subscribers of a few years ago.

Internet video traffic on Versus.com has also seen big improvements, already surpassing all of the 2008 Tour to 6.3 million videos viewed. For the entire race in 2008, Versus had 6.5 million videos viewed, almost doubling the total of 3.4 million in 2007.

TV programming executives predict the race will only get stronger with viewers for Versus. The reason: the race is close with Armstrong near the top of the leader board, as well competing with his own teammates. Additionally, key and dramatic Alp stages are left to come, which always reveals the true top competitors.

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