With first gold, India takes a shine to Olympics

Interest grows in nation where opening ceremony rated low

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NEW DELHI -- India's interest in the Olympics took a dramatic turn Monday, with the country bagging its first individual gold medal, courtesy of shooter Abhinav Bindra, who won in the 10-meter men's air rifle event.

Bindra's surprise success was featured on all news channels for most of the day, and major newspapers Tuesday carried front-page reports on the historic win.

The sudden surge in interest may help to offset dismal ratings for the Olympics so far. The Games' opening ceremony, telecast on Indian statecaster Doordarshan's National channel, reach only about 6 million viewers, roughly 7.5% of India's 82 million TV cable and satellite households, according to figures released Tuesday by Mumbai-based ratings agency aMap.

The Olympics also are being broadcast on DD Sports, the statecaster's 24-hour sports channel dedicated exclusively to the Olympics for the duration of the Games.

DD has bagged about seven advertisers for its daily Olympics capsule, and an official was quoted before the Games as saying that the statecaster could generate about $3 million (120 million rupees) in advertising revenue.

Bindra has been showered with cash prizes from sports and government bodies totaling more than $500,000, and with more lucrative sponsorship deals in the pipeline, commercial interest in the Olympics could spike here.