Great Britain’s golden year of sport reflected in record attendances and viewing figures

  • Attendances at professional sports events in the UK reached 75m in 2012;
  • Spectacular Olympic and Paralympic viewing figures underpin sporting dominance of 2012 television ratings.

20-12-2012 — / — The UK’s amazing year of sport was reflected in attendances of over 75m at professional sports events during 2012, according to analysis by the Deloitte Sports Business Group.  This was reinforced by huge television audiences for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and other established annual sporting events.

Dan Jones, Partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, commented:  “The demand and passion for sport in the UK was reflected in the 11 million tickets sold for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games.  When added to the 64m attendees at other professional UK sport events, there was a total of 75m visits to sporting events across the UK in 2012. The British public’s appetite for attending sporting events, in absolute terms and relative to its population size, is unmatched anywhere in the world.”

This year has also seen huge television viewing figures as sport dominated the list of most watched programmes.  Jones added:  “20m people watched Usain Bolt win the Olympic 100 metres in London, while there were over 6m viewers of Jonnie Peacock’s victory in the T44 100 metres at the Paralympic Games.”

Outside of the Games, the top ten attended sporting events had a combined attendance of 2.4m, and include many of the world’s great sporting occasions.   Horseracing and equestrian events accounted for five of the top ten attended UK sporting events.

Alan Switzer, Director in the Sports Business Group, commented:  “The diversity and quality of British horseracing is respected around the world and is reflected in the crowds that continue to flock to its racecourses for the top meetings. Nearly 11m people watched the last Grand National on the BBC before its move to Channel 4 for 2013.”

2012 was a golden year for tennis with Andy Murray winning Great Britain’s first Grand Slam since 1936, to add to his Olympic gold and silver medals.  Jones added:  “Wimbledon continues to be the country’s highest attended sporting event, while the ATP World Tour Finals in London go from strength to strength – together close to three quarters of a million people attended the two tournaments.  Andy Murray’s attempt to win the men’s title at Wimbledon was the most watched non-Olympic sporting event with a peak audience of 16.9m for the final.”

Some of the other findings from the analysis by Deloitte include:

  • Football contributed over 42m of total sports attendances, due to the perennial popularity of professional club football through the top five tiers of England and Scotland’s four divisions;
  • The Premier League is second only to the Bundesliga as the highest attended domestic league in Europe, with the Championship an impressive fourth in 2011/12;
  • The dramatic 2011/12 Premier League season was reflected in record viewing figures with the critical Manchester derby in April attracting a peak audience of over 4.4m – the highest ever UK pay-tv sports audience (with many more watching in the pubs and clubs around the country);
  • Both codes of rugby recorded increased total attendances in 2011/12, continuing the strong growth of recent years;
  • The poor weather during the summer was the main driver behind the modest falls in horseracing and cricket attendances with many events abandoned or suffering from lower attendances.


Note to editors

UK professional sports event attendances 2012

UK professional sports event attendances 2012


Top 10 attended sporting events in the United Kingdom in 2012

Event (duration in days) Attendance (000’s)
1. Wimbledon (13) 485
2. Formula 1 at Silverstone (3) 297
3. Royal Ascot (5) 280
4. ATP World Tour Finals (8) 263
5. Cheltenham Festival  (4) 237
6. The Open (4) 181
7. Burghley Horse Trials (4) 178
8. Epsom Derby meeting (2) 160
9. Aintree Grand National meeting (3) 150
10. MotoGP at Silverstone (3) 146

N.B. excludes Olympic and Paralympic events and also free sporting events. In a list which included those events for which admission was free, the London Marathon would be comfortably in first position, attracting an estimated 1m spectators each year.
The Open attendance includes practice days
Source: Event organisers, Deloitte analysis

Selected viewing figures for United Kingdom staged sporting events in 2012

Sport Event Broadcaster Peak audience (m)
Olympic Games Opening Ceremony BBC 27.3
Olympic Games Closing Ceremony BBC 26.3
Olympic Games Men’s 100m final BBC 20.0
Olympic Games Men’s 10,000m final BBC 17.1
Tennis Wimbledon Men’s final BBC 16.9
Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony C4 11.2
Horseracing Grand National BBC 10.9
Paralympic Games Men’s T44 100m final (Jonnie Peacock) 6.3
Football Premier League – Manchester City V Manchester Utd Sky 4.4
Formula 1 British Grand Prix BBC and Sky 4.2

Source: Event organisers, BARB, Deloitte analysis

About the Sports Business Group at Deloitte
Over the last 20 years Deloitte has developed a unique focus on the business of sport. Our specialist Sports Business Group offers a multi-disciplined expert service with dedicated people and skills capable of adding significant value to the business of sport. Whether it is benchmarking or strategic business reviews, operational turnarounds, revenue enhancement strategies or stadium/venue development plans, business planning, market and demand analysis, acquisitions, due diligence, expert witness, audits or tax planning; we have worked with more clubs, leagues, governing bodies, stadia developers, event organisers, commercial partners, financiers and investors than any other adviser.

For further information on our services you can access our website at

About Deloitte
In this press release references to Deloitte are references to Deloitte LLP, which is among the country’s leading professional services firms.

Deloitte LLP is the United Kingdom member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), a UK private company limited by guarantee, whose member firms are legally separate and independent entities.

Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

Member of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.

Media contacts

Celine Gordine-Wright
Deloitte LLP
+44 (0) 20 7007 6384
Zoe Cooper
Deloitte LLP
+44 (0) 20 7007 4216


Comments are closed.