A cumulative global reach of 79 million people watched coverage of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in 2010, series promoter Eurosport Events has confirmed.

The figures published by the independent German sports research consultancy IFM Sports Group at the recent SpoBis, Europe's largest sports business conference, in Dusseldorf, Germany, represent a 48 per cent increase over the figure recorded in 2009 when a cumulative audience of 53 million was achieved.

IFM's annual broadcast report shows that the IRC received 432 hours of transmission time in 2010, which was made up of the IRC's 12 qualifying rounds and the Golden Stage Rally, an innovative stand alone event taking place on a single special stage at the end of the season.

The figure represents a nearly three-time increase over 2009 when 158 hours of IRC coverage was broadcast.

"We are delighted with the excellent figures published by IFM, which proves the IRC's popularity is growing steadily," said G?raldine Filiol, Managing Director of Eurosport Events.

"We have also achieved a significant result by embarking on new partnerships with a number of other television networks around the world, which is in addition to our extensive core coverage on Eurosport."

IFM's report comes on the back of viewing figures released following the centenary edition of the world famous Rallye Monte Carlo last month. The opening round of the 2011 IRC season enjoyed a new record cumulative reach of 14 million different viewers, an increase of two million from 2010, who watched Eurosport and Eurosport 2's live coverage of the event.

The 2011 IRC now resumes with Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Ingl?s from 14-16 April.

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