2012 Olympic Games deliver record viewing figures for BBC


The London 2012 Olympic Games delivered the biggest national television audiences since current measuring systems began, with at least 90% of the UK population tuning in to watch the BBC’s comprehensive coverage at some stage during the event.

Almost 52m watched at least 15-minutes of BBC TV’s Olympics output, and 24.2m also tuned in to see at least 15-minutes of coverage on the BBC’s 24 Olympics channels via the Red Button, according to figures released by the corporation, making the 2012 Games the largest TV audience reach for a major event for at least 10 years.

In addition to impressive TV viewing figures, the BBC also delivered its most successful online event ever, attracting a record-breaking 55m global browsers to the BBC Sport website, marking London 2012 as the first truly digital Olympic Games.

BBC TV’s coverage of both ceremonies drew the biggest audiences, with the Closing Ceremony watched by a peak audience of 26.3m and an average audience of 23.2m (82% share).

This compares to the Opening Ceremony peak audience of 27.3m and an average audience of 23.4m (84% share).

Critics have widely applauded the BBC for delivering on its pre-Games promises to bring viewers its most comprehensive and ambitious Olympics coverage ever, with viewers praising the ability to choose which event they wanted to watch and the inputs of its on-screen team including Clare Balding and Michael Johnson.

Danny Cohen, controller of BBC One, said: “It has been an absolute privilege to broadcast the London 2012 Olympics on BBC One.

“It’s been a phenomenal Games and Team GB’s amazing achievements have helped draw huge audiences to BBC One and put the channel right at the heart of the action.

“We’ve had fantastic feedback about the quality of the BBC’s coverage and all the teams involved deserve huge thanks and praise.”

Phil Fearnley from BBC Future Media said: “Our aspiration was that just as the Coronation did for TV in 1953, the Olympics would do for digital in 2012.

“The demand and astonishing feedback we’ve seen from audiences accessing our Olympics content online, whenever they want, on the devices they choose, has exceeded our expectations and helped fulfil this aspiration.

“We promised audiences would never miss a moment of the Games.  We delivered on our promise and will build on this to leave a lasting digital legacy for audiences in years to come.”

Ben Gallop, Head of Interactive for BBC Sport, said: “Our home Olympics was a special time for the whole UK and it’s been really pleasing for BBC Sport to have given our audience the chance to enjoy all that amazing action.

“There have been some great stories of people following Team GB’s rowing success at the shopping centre or watching Usain Bolt when they’re on the beach. We like to think it was the ultimate Olympic choice: on-demand and on-the-move.”

Biggest National TV events
(since current measuring systems began)
90%      London 2012 Olympic Games
81%      World Cup 2002
69%      Diamond Jubilee
61%      Kate & William Royal Wedding

BBC Sport online delivered comprehensive coverage of the 2012 Olympic Games, including a page for every athlete, country, sport and venue; 2,500 hours of coverage; and up to 24 HD live streams, ensuring audiences never missed a moment of the action. 

A new live interactive video player was launched ahead of the Games, meaning viewers could watch and switch between live HD video coverage, navigate to key moments within a session, and discover more with live data, statistics and information, while watching the action.

The new service proved hugely popular, with 106m requests for video throughout the Games (62m for live streams, 8m for on-demand streams and 35m for clips), smashing the previous highs of 32m for the Beijing Games and 38m for the 2010 World Cup. 

New features such as chapter markings received an average 1.5 million clicks per day, with people using them to navigate instantly to key moments.

CLICK HERE for full details of the BBC’s online/digital statistics from the Olympics

You can re-live every moment of the London 2012 Olympic Games via at the BBC Sport website until 13 January 2013.

BBC Radio 5 live and Radio 5 live Sports Extra will be the home of all the major commentary action and reporting from the London 2012 Paralympic Games from 29 August to 9 September.

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