The annual broadcast special of the IRONMAN World Championship will premiere this Saturday, December 9, at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, chronicling this year’s edition of the iconic triathlon that took place on October 14, 2017, in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i.
The 90-minute show will provide viewers with an all-access experience from the pre-race build-up to the final hours of the night time finish, as more than 30 cameras captured the action from the Hawaiian blue skies, across the barren lava fields and under the water of Kailua Bay during the gruelling and inspirational 140.6-mile challenge. More than 2,300 athletes from 66 countries, regions and territories on six continents started this year’s IRONMAN World Championship, taking on a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile marathon run across the rugged Hawaiian terrain, proving that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.
Back in October, IRONMAN partnered with NBC Sports Group and Red Bull TV to provide extensive live coverage of the 2017 IRONMAN World Championship across TV, digital platforms, and social media. The expanded viewing options earned unprecedented increases in viewership both domestically and internationally, more than tripling the 2016 IRONMAN World Championship numbers and delivering more than 4.7 million viewers worldwide. This year, viewers tuned in to the live web broadcast for an average of 81 minutes each, up from 50 minutes in 2016. In total, viewers watched more than 33 million minutes of live coverage, with the largest audience coming from within the United States, followed by Brazil, Spain, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
“Live coverage of the 2017 IRONMAN World Championship exceeded all of our expectations in viewership, social and digital consumption,” said Christopher Stadler, Chief Marketing Officer for IRONMAN. “We expanded our relationship with NBC while joining forces with Red Bull TV to take a major step forward and reach new audiences. Viewers showed their increased interest in the pinnacle event of the endurance world in record numbers, providing a great platform for expanded exposure of our athletes and partners.”
IRONMAN’s partnership with NBC Sports Group reached new viewers through a series of live cut-ins on NBC, three hours of live coverage on NBC Sports, and a 9.5-hour live broadcast on NBCSN.com, earning more than 2 million total viewers of IRONMAN World Championship programming.
With the addition of Red Bull TV to ironman.com, total web viewership grew 40%+ to 1,198,000. Red Bull TV’s partnership allowed for increased mobile and over the top (OTT) streaming through live coverage on the Red Bull TV app, with over 25% of total viewers watching via these channels. Race-day video viewership on social media grew +165% to 1.7 million.
“Being able to provide more opportunities for viewers to watch the race live combined with our documentary style broadcast specials allows for a great mix of content showcasing the battle for supremacy amongst our amazing pros, while also profiling the compelling stories of our age group athletes,” Stadler added.
Viewers will have another chance to catch some of the highlights and inspirational stories from this year’s action with the following:
- The 10 episode docuseries “IRONMAN: Quest for Kona” scheduled for December 7 from 1:00 – 6:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN
- The IRONMAN World Championship Preview scheduled for December 7 from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN (re-air December 9 at 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)
- The Emmy Award-winning IRONMAN World Championship Special on December 9, from 2:30 – 4:00 p.m. ET on NBC (re-air on NBCSN December 10 at 5:30 p.m. ET and December 19 at 5:00 p.m. ET)
Since 1978, the IRONMAN World Championship triathlon has showcased not only the limitless physical capability and competitive nature of the top endurance athletes in the world, but also some of the most awe-inspiring and impactful stories of courage and resilience from the age-group athletes and everyday individuals competing alongside them.
Features of this year’s IRONMAN World Championship special broadcast include:
- Exclusive interviews from current and former World Champions and other professional IRONMAN® athletes.
- Defending women’s IRONMAN World Champion Daniela Ryf of Switzerland looks to make history and join an elite group by claiming a third consecutive victory but newcomer Lucy Charles of Great Britain has other plans.
- With a perfect display of form and strength, run-course record holder Patrick Lange of Germany battles country mates Jan Frodeno and Sebastian Kienle and a determined Lionel Sanders of Canada in seeking his first IRONMAN World Championship title.
- Courageous stage-4 pancreatic cancer fighter, Mike Levine, who was inspired and encouraged by 1982 IRONMAN World Champion Kathleen McCartney, race together to prove a diagnosis doesn’t define you.
- Marine Corps veteran Mike Ergo, uses triathlon to battle the demons of PTSD while finding a way to keep the memory of his 29 fallen Marine Corps brothers alive by racing with their names on his race kit.
- Sian Welch, a former top female professional triathlete returns to the island 20 years after being part of one of the most memorable finishes in Kona history, “The Crawl”.
- Legendary sportscaster Al Trautwig, narrates the annual special, offering viewers an immersive front-row seat to one of the most captivating events in sports. A programming fixture on NBC since 1991, the IRONMAN World Championship Special has garnered 54 Emmy Award nominations with 16 Emmys along with many other accolades.