Olympics 2012: BBC Hopes Tennis Serves Up Ratings Success
LONDON – The BBC is set to break TV audiences for an Olympic tennis match as homegrown hero Andy Murray takes on Roger Federer in Sunday's Olympic tennis singles final.
With Murray guaranteed a medal in either silver or gold and the match coming less than a month after the same match up at the Wimbledon grand slam finals here, the BBC will be looking at big ratings down the line.
The Olympic match up has all the ingredients to entice British audiences to tune in as it gives Murray a fast-breaking opportunity to put his defeat to Federer in the Wimbledon final behind him by securing gold for Team Great Britain.
After defeating Novak Jokovic, who was playing for Serbia in the semi-final and will now play for the bronze medal in a scrap with France's Jo Wilfred Tsonga, Murray said he "wanted to try and win a medal, for the team, for the country and lastly for myself. I'm so happy, I would love to win the gold medal."
Facing him across the Olympic net will be Federer, one of Murray's greatest rivals and a man who many regard as the greatest tennis player of all time.
Federer, a 17-time Grand Slam champion, lifted his seventh Wimbledon title last month but has never played in an Olympic Games singles' final himself.
The precedent for a big audience was set by Murray's Wimbledon exploits.
His valiant defeat by Federer at the London club attracted a peak audience of 16.9 million, the highest viewing figure since at least 1990 and a record for a British player at the tournament.
An average audience of 11.4 million tuned into BBC1's coverage of the Wimbeldon Men's final between 1300 and 1845 BST on Sunday 8 July, a 58% share of total TV viewing across that time period.
Viewing peaked at 16.9 million at 1810 local time as Murray lost to Federer in a riveting four-set clash.
The Olympic final is set to begin at 1400 local time on Wimbledon's center court, rain or shine, because of the stadium's roof.
"I want to try to win. I don't think going into matches trying to get revenge for something that's happened in the past really helps. I think you need to try and focus on the future," Murray told the BBC.
"It's going to be a tough match. I'll need to play great tennis to win. I hope it's a great match because the way the semi-finals went, the tournament deserves a great final. I hope we can provide that."
British exhibitors will be hoping Murray is done and dusted in time to get audiences in and popcorn popping as the other big enemy of cinema business -- the sunshine -- is not helping footfall to theaters.