U.K.'s Channel 4 Paralympics Peak Audience Drops on First Day of Competitions

Paraolympics Draw Record Ratings

The Paralympics got off to a bang this week – with a record TV audience in Britain. 11.2 million people watched the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games, the biggest audience for broadcast network Channel 4 in more than 10 years and the best ever rating for the event.

Following the opening ceremony, some viewers complained though about the amount of commercial breaks.


LONDON - Channel 4's coverage of the first day of Paralympics competition on Thursday peaked with 3.3 million viewers, the British network said Friday.

The peak performance, reached during Great Britain's wheelchair basketball match against Germany at 9 p.m., was down from the peak audience of 11.2 million viewers the channel attracted with the opening ceremony here on Wednesday night. That broadcast had an average viewership of 7.6 million.

STORY: U.K.'s Channel 4 Draws Biggest Audience in Over A Decade With Paralympics Opening Ceremony

Thursday's 3.3 million peak amounted to a stronger-than-usual share of 15 percent for Channel 4.

"This figure exceeded the most watched episodes of the BBC's Paralympics highlights programming during both Beijing 2008 and Athens 2004," which on their respective first competition days peaked with 1.6 million and 2.5 million, the network said.

Since the Wednesday night opening ceremony, some viewers have complained via Twitter about the amount of commercial breaks. There were five breaks in the first 90 minutes of coverage of the spectacle, observers said.

A Channel 4 spokesman defended the ad breaks though. "If you’re asking about ads, we’re showing less than usual but as a commercially funded broadcaster they allow us to show events like the Paras," he said on Twitter.

London and Britain are back in a celebratory mood though thanks to the Paralympics - although less so than during the Summer Olympics that ended earlier this month.

Media on Thursday and Friday celebrated British cyclist Sarah Storey's first gold medal for the home team at the Paralympics, while swimmer Jonathan Fox later on Thursday added a gold in a men's 100 meter backstroke competition.

"Brilliant second GB gold for Jonathan Fox in swimming," Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted. "These Games are inspiring and changing views about disability."

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