With about half of the race completed, Versus' coverage of the Tour de France has seen its ratings soar -- all linked to the return of seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong.
After the first 10 stages of the race, the network's key live morning telecasts have rocketed 77% to an average 479,800 viewers -- from 270,400 over the same period a year ago.
All key male demographics have significant improvement, with men 18-34, gaining 85%; men 18-49, a 132% hike; and men 25-54, a 98% climb.
Versus has also improved on ratings against the previous time Armstrong made an appearance in the race in 2005 -- the last of his seven victories. Average viewership for live morning telecasts is up 15% to 479,809 against 418,866. Plus, viewership among all key male viewing groups has climbed -- men 18-34, gaining 6%; men 18-49, 15% higher; and men 25-54, improving 8%.
One caveat that contributes to some of the rise: Versus is now in 75 million homes, as compared to the 60 million subscribers of a few years ago.