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London Olympics Are Big U.K. TV Ratings Winner in 2012

Olympics Closing Ceremony - H 2012
Getty Images

"The X Factor" drops as "Strictly Come Dancing," "Downton Abbey" and the Euro 2012 soccer tournament bring in strong audience figures.

LONDON – The London 2012 Olympics coverage dominated the TV ratings here in the U.K. during 2012 alongside this year's Euro 2012 soccer tournament, with Strictly Come Dancing and Downton Abbey maintaining popularity and The X Factor taking a dip.

The one-off event programming for the Olympics and the Euro soccer tournament were way out in front for 2012.

The Olympic closing ceremony Aug. 12 was the most-watched program of the year in the U.K. corralling an average audience of 24.5 million viewers, just ahead of Danny Boyle's opening ceremony July 27 with 24.2 million.

PHOTOS: Highlights and Lowlights of The London Olympics

BBC1's live coverage of the closing ceremony attracted a bigger average audience than any U.K. TV show for more than 30 years, since the Barb ratings measurement body began reporting figures in 1981, according to a report in The Guardian.

The London Olympics and Euro 2012 occupy eight of the top 10 spots for the most popular TV shows of the year.

ITV1's Britain's Got Talent finale with 13.1 million viewers is the only returning show in the top ten with the other spot secured by BBC1's Diamond Jubilee concert, featuring performances by Elton John, Tom Jones and Annie Lennox in sixth with 15.3 million pairs of eyeballs.

While ITV1's The X Factor has been the number one rating program for the past two years, this year's offering slips to 20th on the list.

STORY: London Games Rank as Most-Watched Event in U.S. History

And while traditional Christmas Day specials of Downton Abbey, soap operas Coronation Street, EastEnders and Doctor Who are yet to air to post ratings, industry pundits predict the shows will be unable to beat the massive ratings posted during London 2012 and the Euro 2012 matches.

England's Euro 2012 quarter-final loss at the feet of Italy on penalties provided the third most-watched program of the year, with BBC1's live coverage June 24 averaging 20.3 million viewers.

At the Olympics, it was Usain Bolt's men's 100-meter sprint victory that grabbed the most viewers for a sporting event during the London Games with 17.3 million viewers and fourth spot on Aug. 5.