Raikkonen= massive impact on WRC ratings

The World Rally Championship (WRC) web site says that traffic and TV viewer ratings soared with the arrival of F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen to the rally series. Leaving F1 for greener pastures in the WRC has had the carry-over effect of bringing fans with him. There is no doubt that Kimi Raikkonen has a legion of fans as was evidenced in F1 but to carry those fans to a completely different racing series is everything the WRC could have hoped for.

Raikkonen

WRC fever continued into the Swedish Rally when MTV3’s rally site attracted its third best audience ever, 248,191, as Finnish online rally fans celebrated Mikko Hirvonen’s maiden WRC victory in 2010.

The World Rally Championship’s own website, wrc.com, also had a record breaking weekend, with almost eight million page views during the rally, and a single day record of three million on Friday.

Meanwhile membership of the WRC’s official Facebook community continues to grow at its fastest rate ever. The group now has more than 100,000 members – with 10,000 signing up in the last fortnight alone.

This weeks Swedish Rally was a big event with viewer ratings soaring on MTV3’s coverage. Oddly, F1 could never really figure out how to capitalize on Raikkonen’s magnetic pull or perhaps more to the point, they let that ratings-boosting driver leave the series.

I have seen many arguments that F1 will lose out and at some level I am inclined to agree but in the end game, I doubt F1 fans who were Raikkonen fans will not watch F1 due to a lack of a Raikkonen on the grid. If there are those who would stop watching F1 due to a Raikkonen-less grid…I suspect they were not strong F1 fans to begin with.

Regardless, Raikkonen sells tickets and boosts ratings and all of this is very good for the WRC who has struggled of late with the Schumacher-esque dominance of Sebastien Loeb for the last 5 years. The series needed something and in Raikkonen they may have just found it. Will Raikkonen come back to F1? If I am the WRC, I’d do everything I could to prevent it.

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