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Olympics 2012: London Games Draw Big Audiences in European Markets

Summer Olympics Usain Bolt 100m Final - H 2012
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Like in the U.K., broadcasters in Germany and France have seen higher ratings than for the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

The London Summer Olympics haven't only drawn strong ratings for NBC and its sibling networks in the U.S., but also in big European countries.

In such major TV markets as Germany, France and, of course, the hosts in Great Britain, the lack of a big time difference has helped draw bigger live TV crowds than Beijing 2008 managed to reach.

In the U.K., the BBC has managed to draw a bigger peak audience every day of the London 2012 Summer Games than it had hit on its biggest day of its Beijing 2008 coverage.

That year, the U.K. public broadcaster drew a peak audience of 6.8 million with the closing ceremony. The most-watched Olympics highlights show in 2008 peaked with about 7.5 million viewers.

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt's gold medal-winning 100-meter race drew the biggest peak audience of 20 million as of Sunday morning.

Previous ratings highs for the U.K. broadcaster's coverage of the Games included last Saturday's gold-medal-winning run over 10,000 meters from Mo Farah, which drew a peak viewership of 17.1 million.

Danny Boyle's London 2012 opening ceremony, which had peaked at 26.9 million viewers, drew bigger ratings than any competition.

The BBC also had success with its Games coverage on digital public broadcast network BBC3, which last weekend for the first time ever outperformed commercial broadcaster ITV1 in terms of all-day viewer share.

In France, 34 million people have watched at least one hour of the Games on France Televisions' networks France 2, France 3, France 4 and France O.

The top ratings for day time event went to France 2 on the day of the opening ceremony with a 27.5 percent market share, the channel's best since July of 2005. France 3 the next day hit a 19.7 percent share, its best since 2008.

France TV's Olympics show "JO: Londres 2012," that airs on France 2 and 3, has consistently been the top program in the country since the Games began.

The top rating for Olympics competitions so far went to France 2 for Bolt's gold medal last Sunday with 10 million people holding their breath in front of the TV. The men's 200-meter swimming final was also popular with 8.6 million people tuning in to watch Yannick Agnel take the gold.

In Germany, public broadcaster ZDF has averaged 3.59 million viewers for its London 2012 coverage so far, a market share of 24.9 percent. Beijing 2008 had drawn an average audience of 1.81 million, or a share of 22.5 percent.

The top draw for German viewers has so far been the gold medal-winning performance of discus star Robert Harting on Tuesday night. It led 10.3 million German households to tune in.

Scott Roxborough and Rebecca Leffler contributed to this report.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com
Twitter: @georgszalai