Thou­sands flock to SBS pelo­ton

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Television - TIM MARTAIN

RE­GARD­LESS of whether you think Cadel Evans is a hero or not ( I’ll weigh in on that in a minute), the Aussie cy­clist has cer­tainly been a hero for SBS.

SBS recorded its high­est au­di­ence for 2011 on July 24 with a metro av­er­age of 704,000 and a re­gional av­er­age au­di­ence of 234,000 ( a to­tal of 938,000) tun­ing in to see Cadel Evans ride to vic­tory in the fi­nal stage of the Tour de France.

That was a metro share of 32.6 per cent and was the most-watched stage of the Tour de France ever.

Au­di­ence share for SBS is tra­di­tion­ally quite low, hov­er­ing around the 3-5 per cent mark, so it is quite a con­sid­er­able feat when it gets these spikes from time to time.

The last time it had such a surge was dur­ing the spe­cial event Go Back to Where You Came From in June, with an av­er­age au­di­ence of 851,000 ( 600,000 metro and 226,000 re­gional).

The Tour has be­come an in­sti­tu­tion for Aus­tralian view­ers, even among non-sports fans.

This was the 21st year SBS has tele­vised the event and its au­di­ence con­tin­ues to grow each year.

Its overnight times­lot, usu­ally run­ning from 10pm into the early hours of the fol­low­ing morn­ing, has not de­terred view­ers from tun­ing in to en­joy not just the competition but also the scenery.

While cy­cling en­thu­si­asts and mad-keen sports fans are ob­vi­ous view­ers, the more sur­pris­ing thing is how many peo­ple with lit­tle in­ter­est in cy­cling watch it.

Such view­ers treat it al­most as a travel piece, en­joy­ing the sweep­ing cam­era work that takes in some of the most beau­ti­ful coun­try­side in Europe.

The side-ef­fect of this, of course, is that even ca­sual view­ers then get sucked in by the spirit of competition even­tu­ally and start learn­ing the names of the main con­tenders and cheer­ing them on.

So by the time Cadel Evans was poised to take his fi­nal vic­tory ride in to Paris, he had amassed le­gions of new fans who might have never even heard of him be­fore this year, but they came to love him all the same.

Which brings me to Mia Freed­man, the jour­nal­ist who was not only outed on Nine’s To­day show for not know­ing who Evans was but who also dared to chal­lenge the zeit­geist by say­ing she thought ‘‘ hero’’ was ap­plied a bit too lib­er­ally to sports­peo­ple in Aus­tralia. The ridicu­lous ad hominem at­tacks from sports fans in the af­ter­math have been, quite frankly, dis­gust­ing.

She never de­nied Evans’s abil­i­ties and she never said he was un­wor­thy of congratulations and ado­ra­tion, as many have in­sin­u­ated she did.

All she did was say she’s not in­spired by sports­peo­ple and is more ju­di­cious with her use of the word ‘‘ hero’’ – and she’s en­ti­tled to that opin­ion.

The sav­age per­sonal at­tack To­day co-host Karl Ste­fanovic launched at a stunned Freed­man proved noth­ing ex­cept that he is cer­tainly not the bet­ter per­son he seems to think he is, just by virtue of call­ing a cy­clist a hero.

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