21 Aug 2008

China Games 'a broadcast record'

8:48 am on 21 August 2008

The International Olympic Committee says the Beijing Games look set to become the most widely broadcast event in Olympic history.

More than half of China's 1.3 billion people turned on to watch at least some part of the opening ceremony.

In addition to this viewing success, the IOC expects its revenue to increase for future Games.

The BBC reports this success has helped vindicate the decision to award the event to Beijing.

At a news conference, IOC TV and marketing director Timo Lumme said that by the end of the Beijing Games, three times more TV and online material would have been broadcast than at the Athens Games in 2004.

He said the figure for total viewing in the world could be around 1.2 billion people.

In China alone, a total of 842 million people tuned in to at least some of the opening ceremony. More than 1 billion Chinese people have watched at least one Olympic event.

In the United States, more than 40 million viewers watched swimmer Michael Phelps win his eighth gold medal - the biggest Saturday night audience since 1990.

There were equally impressive viewing figures in other countries, figures that have been boosted by increased online coverage.

More revenue

This success will enable the IOC to increase its revenue in the future.

Mr Lumme said the IOC earned a total of $US2.6 billion from the winter Games in Turin in 2006 and the Beijing event.

That figure is expected to jump to about $US3.9 billion for the Vancouver winter Games in 2010 and the next summer Games, in London in 2012.

China's state broadcaster CCTV can also expect to pay much more in the future because of its growing economic and sporting clout.

CCTV paid $US18.5 million for the rights to show the Beijing Games - far less than other big countries. Mr Lumme said China will be looking at "well into three figures" for rights for the next event.