Sat.1 says ‘never again’ to Tour

Cycle race produces poor ratings

BERLIN — German web Sat.1 said “never again” on Monday to broadcasting the Tour de France after getting pitiful ratings for the doping tainted three week long cycling race.

Web acquired rights to the race just 10 days ago, when German pubcasters ARD and ZDF abruptly pulled the plug on their coverage.

“We didn’t expect it to be a ratings hit but the results are nevertheless far lower than we expected,” Sat.1 spokeswoman Kristina Fassler said, after just 710,000 viewers watched the web’s coverage of what was once the world’s premier cycling race.

“Ratings like that are not enough for any major network to get involved.”

ARD and ZDF, which have scored sterling daytime ratings of more than 3 million viewers with the race through the past nine years and helped turn cycling into a major German TV sport, abandoned their coverage at the half-way point after a German cyclist Patrik Sinkewitz tested positive for doping.

It was the final straw for the German pubcasters, which had vowed to leave if any more doping scandals arose this year after last year’s race was marred by cheats.

ARD and ZDF had defended their decision to broadcast this year’s race, saying the sport was cleaning up its act after last year’s debacle. But after bailing out, they faced withering criticism at first for their missionary approach. In France itself, the ratings for the race remained robust at about 5 million.

The Tour de France is broadcast to 185 nations. Revenues from Germany have, however, previously accounted for about a third of the race’s TV earnings.

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