The America's Cup viewing figures are worrying. To be truly popular we need to see all the fun of the circus

The America’s Cup has been been heating up and, not surprisingly, the organisers say they are seeing a huge rise in the number of people viewing the action online. Look more closely at the figures they have released, however, and you find something that is still depressingly rarified and far removed from most sports – far removed even from the appeal of mainstream recreational boating.

The America’s Cup website has, they say, been logging 140,000 unique users on racing days. As an indication of the number of people interested in following the racing worldwide that’s small. When you dissect it further it makes even more disheartening reading.

Figures from the audit company Hitwise show that in the UK, visits per day are less than 6,000. That’s a quarter of the daily traffic to our own When you compare page views it gets worse: the America’s Cup site is attracting less than a tenth of our total on an average racing day.

Now, this is not to boast about how popular our sites are (though they are very popular), but to illustrate that the America’s Cup is still a niche within a niche. To compare football with an event concerned with the minutiae of pro racing is fatuous. Like it or not, football is a sport spiced and self-sustained by celebrity.

The racing will always be a minority interest. For a broader audience I’m afraid we will have to have all the fun of circus, rich with tales of rogues and heroes, gossip, scandal and intrigue.