Rio 2016 Paralympics smash all TV viewing records

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The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has announced that the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games were the most viewed in history attracting a record cumulative audience of more than 4.1 billion people. According to Nielsen Sports figures, published to mark six months on from the Games, the Rio 2016 Paralympics saw the global cumulative TV audience increase by 7 per cent on the 3.8 billion people that watched London 2012.

Last September’s Games which involved 4,328 athletes from 159 countries also benefited from more broadcast coverage than ever before. In total 154 countries showed the Games, 39 more than London 2012 and nearly double the 80 who covered Beijing 2008. As a result, the total number of hours broadcast increased to nearly 5,110 – more than the total hours broadcast for Beijing 2008 and London 2012 combined. The Games were broadcast in more countries than ever before, more hours were shown and the numbers watching have never been higher. Nearly all markets increased their broadcast hours and we managed to grow both the domestic and international audiences.

In addition to the record TV audiences on traditional platforms, more than one billion people globally were engaged in the Games via digital media channels.

Alexis Schaefer, the IPC’s Commercial and Marketing Director, said: “We are delighted that the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games smashed all broadcast records, especially at a time when audiences for many sport events are decreasing across traditional linear platforms. The Games were broadcast in more countries than ever before, more hours were shown and the numbers watching have never been higher. Nearly all markets increased their broadcast hours and we managed to grow both the domestic and international audiences.

“To put the growth into perspective, the cumulative audience watching the Paralympics has grown by 127 per cent in the last 12 years. The Athens 2004 Games were watched by 1.8 billion people in 25 countries, whilst last September’s Paralympics were seen by 4.1 billion in 154 countries. For Rio 2016 we saw a shift away from relive and delayed broadcasts towards more live viewing and digital consumption. The coverage the Games also received through news and sport magazines shows increased significantly whilst the numbers consuming the Games via digital media also reached record highs,” added Schaefer.

Looking ahead to Tokyo 2020, Japanese broadcasters, including rights holder NHK, showed more than 401 hours of coverage from the Rio 2016 Paralympics reaching a cumulative 708 million people; only Italy with 557 hours broadcast more.


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