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London 2012: Canadian TV Audience Up Sharply Over Beijing 2008 Coverage

Summer Olympics Michael Phelps 200m Butterfly - H 2012
Al Bello/Getty Images

Swimming events from the Summer Games are the most popular as Canada follows Michael Phelps' historic medal haul and local bronze-winning divers.

TORONTO – Call it the Michael Phelps halo effect, or just being able to watch the 2012 London Games live.

Swimming is the most-watched Summer Olympics sport so far for the CTV-led broadcast consortium bringing Canadians early coverage of the 2012 London Games.

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Exceeding its Beijing 2008 audience, Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium is averaging 2.1 million viewers overall through the first four days of coverage from London, or 2.8 million average viewership in primetime.

The daily average audience, which can view 22 hours a day of Olympic coverage on assorted consortium cable channels, is up a whopping 74 percent on the average audience for the first stages of Beijing 2008 on the rival CBC network.

And the London Games swimming competition has so far posted the top five most-watched events, led by the men and women semifinals and finals on July 29 that averaged 2.2 million viewers.

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Unlike the U.S. where NBC airs the major swimming competitions on tape delay, Canadians watch the Olympic competition live.

And just under 4.5 million Canadians watched some part of the synchronized diving final on Monday where Canadians Émilie Heymans and Jennifer Abel claimed a bronze medal.

The consortium also reported that, so far, 28 million Canadians, or 83.4% of the population, has watched some coverage of the London 2012 Games.