37.2% of Fans Watched 10+ Live Broadcast Races a Season - State of the Sport 2024

Apr 9, 2024
by Sarah Moore  

Welcome to the 2024 Pinkbike State of the Sport Survey. This anonymous survey is designed to highlight key issues and riders' perspectives on the sport that we, pro riders, and Pinkbike readers all love so much. We surveyed the best riders in the world to hear their thoughts, ideas, concerns, and criticisms on mountain biking in 2024. Now, we're breaking down what we've learned. We're now publishing a series of articles that break down sections of the results, and you'll see the results in full shortly. This year, we introduced the public survey, which will help gauge public views on the sport and should make for some interesting comparisons to what the racers say. Stay tuned for that. To read the introduction to the survey click here, and to see all the other currently published SOTS articles click here.


We had 4055 people answer the first-ever State of the Sport Public Survey. While reading through the data below on viewing habits, it's worth noting that 96.2% of people who responded to the survey identify as male and the public response was mainly from North America, accounting for 62.9% of answers while we received 27.8% from Europe.

A major change ahead of the 2023 season was that Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) took over the reins of organization and coverage of the series from Red Bull. For viewers, this meant additional opportunities to watch live racing as the U23 XC races, Junior DH races and Elite DH semi-finals were now available to watch on YouTube, free of charge. While the additional coverage was well-received, the fact that the Elite finals in XC and Downhill are now only available to view on paid platforms as opposed to being broadcast for free on Red Bull TV, caused outrage.

In the State of the Sport Public Survey, we tried to figure out how this has changed viewing habits and where people are getting their race coverage from. We also asked how many people are watching multiple disciplines and whether they're watching both men's and women's racing.

Survey Respondents Are Dedicated to Watching the Entire Season of Racing

An impressive 91.3% of people who answered the survey follow mountain bike racing. Furthermore, almost 80% of people surveyed said that they follow both women's and men's racing. A whopping 37.2% of you watch over ten live broadcast races a season and 66.9% watch five or more races a season. That means that over a third of people are watching every round in one discipline, and some are even watching more than just one discipline of racing.

69.6% of people surveyed said that following race results was at least a moderate priority, with 28.5% saying that it was a high priority and 6.4% saying it's an essential priority.

DH is the Most Popular Discipline & The Elite Men's DH Broadcast Gets the Most Views

93.4% of people said they're interested in downhill racing, with the bulk of views going to the Elite Men's broadcast. 72.4% of fans said that they watch the Elite Men's broadcast, while 57.8% said they watch the Elite Women's broadcast. 19.7% said that they watch the Junior Men's racing and 13% said that they watch the Junior Women's racing. 26% of people responded to this question saying that they don't watch live race broadcasts.

Despite the addition of semi-finals live coverage for free, only 8.4% of people said that they always watched it in 2023, with 15% saying that they often watched it and 31.4% of people saying that they never watched it.

Half of People Surveyed Would Watch A Live Broadcast of Enduro Racing

It's not all doom and gloom for enduro racing, with 77% of people saying that they are interested in enduro racing. In addition, 49% of people said that they would watch a live broadcast of enduro racing, suggesting that the discipline is still relevant despite cries that it is teetering on the edge of relevancy. A further 31.2% of people replied that they might watch it.

It just seems that following live timing is not the preferred way of following racing, understandably, as 31.9% of people said that they never follow it, with a further third saying that they rarely follow it.

Almost the Same Number of People Watch Elite Women's XC Racing as Elite Men's XC Racing

It's just about an even split for how many people who answered the survey are interested in cross-country racing, with 52.1% saying they aren't interested in cross-country racing.

Of the people who do follow XC racing, XCO is the favourite, with 79.8% saying it's their preferred style of XC racing to watch.

Unlike downhill, there is a much more even split between the men's and women's content, with 58.4% of people saying they usually watch the Elite Men's XCO race and 55.3% saying that they usually watch the Elite Women's XCO race as well. Despite being free, less than 10% of people watched the U23 racing.

61.4% People Paid Less Attention to World Cup Racing This Year Than Last Year

61.4% of people said that they did not pay as much attention to racing this year as they did last year, with many citing the added cost of watching the live broadcast as the main reason behind why they weren't as interested in racing in 2023.

bigquotesSince DH left Red Bull I do not watch.
Used to be all live broadcasts but know dip in and out and don't subscribe for the whole season!
Used to be live, but now due to a major drop in quality and rise in cost I just watch highlights.
Used to be live broadcasts, but now I rely on media site recaps
Used to be live, now with WB broadcasting is only highlights
Used to watch every single race since Freecaster times. Now I don't watch any racing except the reports on Pinkbike or VitalMTB
Used to watch live broadcasts/replays, but highly unlikely this year. 2023 it was relatively affordable, but quality was questionable.
Used to watch now I can't so i watch hardline and limited youtube coverage uci dh
Used to watch on Red Bull TV but haven't since they lost coverage
Used to watch Red Bull channel
Warner Brothers has never heard of NZ so footage is no longer available in my country.
Don't do anymore because the current broadcaster put it behind a paywall.

Less than 2% of people were very satisfied with the 2023 race coverage

Here's a sample of the comments from the "What do you think of Warner Bros. Discovery's broadcast coverage?"

bigquotesWorst year of MTB since I started following it in 2004.
Coverage was fine, commentary was rubbish (except Gwin who saved them!)
It wasn't as bad as I was expecting, commentary got better towards the end, but we still miss Rob.
It's fine.
Don’t know. Didn’t pay for it
GCN was great, I’m not too happy about MAX this year quite expensive
A few issues to sort after the start, but great coverage by the end of the season
It was poor. Semi-Finals take away from the sport. Announcers were not as good as in the past. New course markers were a positive.
Too expensive. Didn't purchase the whole season.
Good cameras, sh*t commentary
Poor, but hope it's work in progress.

bigquotesit needs improvement. Feels like they don't really understand what the average MTB fan wants and is trying to make the sport fit their formula rather than adjusting their formula to fit the sport.

bigquotesIt improved over the course of the season. The English commentary was terrible, so we switched to German which was OK. When Gwin was in the booth we suffered through the other two guys' irrelevant comments to get some insight into Gwin's expertise and behind the scenes insight.

bigquotesCommentary was lacking. I love Rob, but am not in the Rob or nothing camp. I think prioritizing experience in sport media of racing would be a first step, especially if you can pair that person with a former racer. I also felt the actual video coverage was not improved or delivered in an interesting way. If you are going to ask people to pay for a premium product, deliver a premium product.

bigquotesI see potential - I believe some small tweaks in response to viewer feedback and bringing Rob Warner back in the commentary booth would be a huge improvement. Definitely continue having injured athletes as guest commentators.

Only 8.4% of people are very likely to pay for access to this year's World Cup race coverage

Only 31.5% of survey respondents said that they paid for access to last year's World Cup coverage and only 8.4% of people said that they are "Very Likely" to pay for World Cup coverage this year and 13.7% said that are "Likely" to. Over 66.3% of people said that they were either "Unlikely" or "Very Unlikely" to pay for coverage.

Fans Like to Get News Directly From Athletes on Social Media

Over 80% of people who answered our survey said that they are following racers on social media. Racers often share story updates immediately following races and it's usually the first place they share breaking news stories. Overwhelmingly, people said that they think sponsors rank a riders social media reach more highly than their traditional media reach.

Interestingly, while people said that sponsors likely rank the importance of social media reach more highly than that of traditional media, there were mixed results in what level of importance it should actually have for riders to maintain their income. 5.6% said that it should be a very important part of the package that they offer sponsors, while 14.1% of people said that it shouldn't be important at all. Most people fell somewhere in the middle, with 30.2% of people saying that it is important, 16.7% of people saying it's fairly important and 33.4% of people saying that it's slightly important.

Luckily for us, 41.4% of people said that they watch the Pinkbike Photo Epics from races and 66.4% of people look at our results articles. Race highlights were the main way that people follow racing, with 70% of people watching them. However, almost the same amount of people, 69.7% of people, say that they watch the whole live broadcast/race replays as well. 35% of people said that they watch rider vlogs to stay in the loop with what is happening in the racing world. The survey allowed people to check multiple boxes when answering this question.

Author Info:
sarahmoore avatar

Member since Mar 30, 2011
1,330 articles

  • 41 1
 "Only 31.5% of survey respondents said that they paid for access to last year's World Cup coverage and only 8.4% of people said that they are "Very Likely" to pay for World Cup coverage this year and 13.7% said that are "Likely" to. Over 66.3% of people said that they were either "Unlikely" or "Very Unlikely" to pay for coverage."

I really hope someone at WB/D sees this and understands the impact of what they're doing to the sport. It would also be nice to think someone at the UCI might see this article and actually care about what's happening, although I know that's an unrealistic expectation.
On another note just how long are they going to leave people in Australasia not knowing if they're even going to be able to watch through WB/D's platform? Way to go pushing people towards pirate sites.
  • 29 0
 Am I so out of touch? No. It's the viewers who are wrong.

-WB/D Execs
  • 5 0
 Exactly. This is the core demographic that would actually seek out and subscribe to this content.

We can only hope that Red Bull will be supportive of taking the reigns again in a few years once WB/Disco have decided it's not economically viable to support downhill mountain biking.
  • 12 0
 I used to casually watch, when a race was on. I even watched one with my 2 young kids, who were getting into it.

Now... I don't watch the finals because they cost, and I don't care "that" much (at least enough to pay for it). I don't usually watch the semi-finals, because it doesn't tell me who won the race.

Which means, I don't watch, my kids don't watch, and I generally care/think about it less.

That seems like the wrong outcome for WB? What do I know though, I'm just a consumer/customer, and a guy who really likes riding bikes (even if I am very mid, at best).
  • 6 1
 I hope this isn't the beginning of a downward spiral/ feedback loop of WB/D sucking, people not paying for the service because it sucks, then WB/D cuts budget so it sucks worse, even less people pay, more sucking....
  • 11 0
 Other sports (F1, WRC, etc) have accountable organisers. They face interviews and constantly release information on how they are improving the sport. This lack of involvement with news outlets like PB, etc, or with the paying fans by UCI or WBD is a disgrace. And it doesn't sound any better for the riders, who seem to not see any improvements (especially their Semi's concern or their salaries outside top 10 riders) from last year. We, the fans, are paying you money for this broadcast. You, the service provider, should start providing a professional service.
  • 3 3
 As best I can tell, I'll be able to watch bikes through my normal Max subscription. I'm mostly signed up so I can watch movies and my kids can watch Sesame Street, so I'm actually psyched that bikes will be included in that for no extra charge. I'm sure Warner Bros will find some way to fuck this up, but at least for the moment, I see this as an improvement over last year's bike-specific subscription.
  • 2 0
 I worry about those fringe people that are .5 .4 .3 and .7 they dont seem to be fully represented
  • 2 0
 @toast2266: If you already have max you will still have to pay for an additional "add on" sports service, B/R sports, to watch bike events. $10/month or $6/month if you pay for a full year upfront. As far as I know, that's the only US option, so if you don't already have max you have to get that and B/R sports.
  • 2 0
 @the-smith: Currently the B/R sports add on is free / included with the regular Max subscription - I have B/R sports, and I'm haven't paid anything extra for it. It's unclear how long that will last. Probably free until right around the time that bike racing picks up.
  • 1 0
 @toast2266: yeah, it’ll be interesting if this weekend’s XC races are broadcast live for free.
  • 2 0
 @toast2266: Yeah, it’s really unclear how long the add-on will be free. Apparently the target date has already come and gone, but WB pushed it because of some tech issues. Let’s hope they continue!
  • 1 0
 Id say sponsors £$€¥ would make more of a change than the UCI or WB.........
  • 18 0
 First question should have been 2 parts: How many do you typically watch pre-2023? How many did you watch in 2023?
  • 19 1
 Zero races watched gang! (watched every race previously)
  • 2 0
 Tried once and paid for the access. App sucked so bad I gave up.
  • 13 0
 Still in utter disbelief there is no word yet as to how anyone outside the US / CAN / EURO will actually watch these. Last year - those outside the US / Europe, the GCN+ app and race access was a godsend, now there is nothing.
  • 3 0
 @bermdweller: I'm hoping to get them as replays on tiz
  • 15 0
 Semi finals suck. I just want to watch one give all and take all run.
  • 1 0
 Yes, but I think watching free semi-finals is way better than paying next season's ridiculously high sub fee for a mediocre product.
  • 11 0
 Still no coverage in Aus or some major Australasian countries for 24.......
  • 1 0
 @Beyond-The-Tape: are SBS not doing them this year?
  • 2 0
SBS only broadcast the World Champs.
  • 9 0
 So this is pretty much the comments turned into a data set
  • 5 0
 Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it…

Remember when boxing was really popular and then faded away, pay per view had a lot to do with that.

The tv exec’s can do what ever they want, but they will find out quickly that people can occupy their time any number of ways.

If it’s too much of a hassle, too expensive, or not worth their time, they will end up like NFL teams in L.A. : Wondering where everyone went…
  • 4 0
 There is no chance that I will pay to watch any mountain bikes races. The DH coverage I saw last year was horrible, so much so that i didn't even miss it after I stopped watching. The XC races were even more awful than the DH as the XC race only showed the very front of the race.

By contrast I am happy to pay to watch road racing as the quality of coverage is far better. There are cameras covering everything (on motos, stationary, helicopter, drone).
  • 8 0
 Bar Charts this time Smile
  • 8 1
 The people have spoken... Via keyboard.
  • 4 1
 UCI needs to just release a streaming service with all pro bike races. Trying to follow the spring classics is ridiculous.... You gotta have Max, flobikes + VPN and Peacock if you want to watch pro cycling in the USA....If the UCI had an app where i could watch every MTB/Road/Cyclocross race, they would have my money instantly.
  • 2 0
 I'm still not even sure what "Flobikes" is or how they manage to exist in any capacity.
  • 2 0
 "Interestingly, while people said that sponsors should rank the importance of social media reach more highly than that of traditional media, there were mixed results in what level of importance it should have for riders to maintain their income."

This completely misses the mark in regards to the wording of the first question,

"How do you think sponsors rank the importance of social media reach compared to traditional media coverage (e.g video on Pinkbike homepage or Photo Epic appearance)".

Nowhere in that does it ask how anyone thinks sponsors should rank the importance of social media. It's a pointless survey if the questions aren't phrased to give the information you're after.
  • 3 0
 Also, why not just survey the sponsors? It's not like the PB team doesn't already have direct lines to the marketing leads at every single brand that sponsors anybody in this sport.

Two questions, one for the brand marketers, one for the end consumers.
  • 2 1
 @GTscoob: This question was more about perception of value from a fan standpoint, but we did add the Public Survey this year, maybe we'll have to add a Sponsor Survey one of these days!
  • 3 0
 You're totally right, I've reworded that.
  • 2 0
 @sarahmoore: Sponsor survey would be really great. I know a lot of bike industry marketers that have some strong opinions and concrete data they'd throw down in an anonymous survey.
  • 2 0
 Let's put it this way, I've watched more road cycling coverage this year than across all disciplines of cycling I saw last year.

I'd never ride road myself, I'm staying on the MTB, but my viewing habits have changed completely and it's all because of WB/D
  • 2 0
 Maybe I'm out of touch, but I watched zero percent.
For comparison, the amount of football, baseball. basketball, volleyball, soccer, and tennis I watched was also zero.
Car racing? Zero. Boxing? Zero. MMA? Maybe 10 minutes last year. College wrestling, a bit. High school XC, T&F, wrestling, a ton. Middle school XC is coming along slowly as well. Smile

My dad worked his ass of when I was a kid. He told me that he sacrificed the little time he had for being a fan of the pros to being a father and coach to the amateurs he was raising. I guess it stuck. I'd rather do, or watch/help my kids do than watch the strangers.

No judgement! Just different strokes.
  • 2 0
 I'm mostly just angry at this point that we, in Australia, don't currently have a ludicrously overpriced broadcasting option that we can bitch and moan about.

I probably would have paid the overblown price for an under-delivered service; after the appropriate period of bitching and moaning. But I guess we'll just have to stick to comments in UCI's socials for now.

A shame that the respondents were > 90% North American and European. Because the numbers outside of those areas are going to tank hard this year, given that lack of viewing options.
  • 1 0
 Very disappointed by this completely effed up situation by UCI and WB. I've been following XCO women's and men's racing "semi-religiously" for about 10 years now. Even last year, although it definitely was NOT better than before, I ponied up to watch on GCN+. But this year - it's on another level of screwed up. 30 bucks/month or 150/year for Flow bikes, when the only thing that interests me there are those XCO races??
Something tells me that majority of people who end up watching (legally), are already Flo bikes subscribers and mainly interested in road racing. Over 66% of respondent above answered unlikely or very unlikely to whether they will pay, and I'm in the same camp.
  • 2 0
 Flobike’s pricing is in usd so it’s 41 Canadian a month. $203 Canadian for the year!
  • 3 0
 @vinceboothe: I did not realize it was in USD, thanks for catching that. I just assumed since it was broadcasting to Canadians it would be in CDN, ugh.
  • 1 0
 It dawned on me recently that most MTB viewing is boring as hell. There are some incredible YouTubers making watchable content, but watching someone just ride a trail is about 1/1000th as exciting as riding trails myself. I don't know - time trials are just not compelling racing. The concept of overtaking on short track XC would be cool to get into, but I have no idea how to see it lol.
  • 5 0
 Have you watched DH live? If you haven't, watch Benoit coulanges win last year, I'm sure you'll agree that race wasn't boring. Every year has boring races and awesome races. If you need more inspiration, comment below and I'll outline a few more!
  • 1 0
 I used to religiously watch every single uci mtb race (mens/womens, DH and XC, Inc short track etc) every season, participate in PB fantasy league, etc. As soon as red bull left and WBD coverage was pay-only (and sucked), I stopped. Now I follow cathro, moimoi, and wyn.

Why TF should I pay for something of a lower quality than what used to be great and free?

WBD can get bent. $#!++¥.
  • 1 0
 I think there is some confusion about the first question and it's relationship to the world cup series. The questions was "how many races or events or events do you watch per year?". It does not specify whether in person or on media nor what races or series. I answered that I watched 10+ events last year, but not a single one was a world cup final, and only a few semi finals. However, there is still plenty of Red Bull racing events to watch for free.
  • 1 0
 Long story short... the format changes and the viewing changes and the commentator changes all drastically affected the viewership numbers of the sport in a bad way.... so for this year we'll change... nothing...
  • 2 0
 Always watched every single XC and DH race when Red Bull TV was the broadcaster. Have not watched a single race since it has become pay per view.
  • 2 0
 I used to watch every single race when redbull did the coverage. It was free and the production and camera angles were immaculate. Now it's not even worth pirating
  • 1 0
 Nothing gets me stoked about racing mountain bikes like paying to watch mountain bike racing so I don’t have any money to go mountain bike racing. Makes perfect sense.
  • 2 1
 I just learned Max is airing the races in the US. Pretty cool if you already have a subscription.
  • 1 0
 You’ll have to pay and extra $10 a month or something for the B/R add-on, though. It’s free right now while WB works some issues out, but that won’t last.
  • 1 0
 I would watch an LCQ with the 30 riders that misses qualifying. Drama - for them it's all on the line.
  • 1 0
 Last year's change was another nail in the coffin for my love an participation in MTB....
  • 11 11
 PB is really trying to milk the state of the sport survey eh?
A single post would do....
  • 5 5
 How likely are you willing to read this whole article?
99% of survey respondents chose “very unlikely.”
  • 2 0
  • 1 0
 Guess how many Australian fans will be watching this year.
  • 1 4
 The best part of last year was the addition of CG!
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