Olympics 2012: BBC Reaches Biggest Average Audience With Closing Ceremony

Olympics Closing Ceremony Spice Girls - H 2012
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Olympics Closing Ceremony Spice Girls - H 2012

The U.K. public broadcaster reached a peak viewership of 26.3 million, just below the 26.9 million for Danny Boyle's opening ceremony.

LONDON - The BBC said Monday that it drew a peak audience of 26.3 million with the star-studded London 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony Sunday night.

That was the biggest audience of the Summer Games for the U.K. public broadcaster except for Danny Boyle's opening ceremony, which had peaked with 26.9 million viewers and became one of the top 20 most-watched British TV programs ever.

The BBC said the average U.K. viewership for the event came in at 22.9 million though, ahead of the 22.4 million for the opening ceremony. That was an audience share of 81 percent of all people watching TV at the time.

For the BBC, that also marked a record for a closing ceremony, topping Barcelona 1992, which had reached an average audience of 11 million, or a 47 percent share.

A BBC representative also said that the total number of Brits watching at least part of the Olympics in the U.K. reached 51.9 million, 90.4 percent of the population.

The most-viewed Olympic competition was the men's 100 meter sprint. Jamaican star Usain Bolt's gold medal-winning performance in the race drew a peak audience of 20 million for the BBC.

Other big ratings hits for the BBC included British runner Mo Farah's victory in the 10,000 meter race, which drew a peak viewership of 17.1 million.

Overall, BBC TV said it drew its largest TV audience for a major event in at least 10 years with the Olympics, the broadcaster said.


It also lauded record-breaking online traffic, with 55 million global and 37 million U.K. browsers to the BBC Sport site across the Games and an average of 9.5 million global and 7.1 million U.K. visitors per day.

Meanwhile, digital network BBC3 on Saturday drew its biggest-ever audience of 6.6 million with coverage of British diver Tom Daley's bronze medal-winning performance.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai