Beijing Games biggest broadcast event in Olympic history

August 20th, 2008 - 4:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 20 (Xinhua) An official with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said here Wednesday that the Beijing Olympic Games are set to become the biggest broadcast event in Olympic history. There is an unprecedented volume of Olympic sports content available, with around 5,000 hours of coverage provided for viewers in around 200 countries, Timo Lumme, managing director of IOC Television and Marketing Services, said at a press conference in the Games’ Main Press Centre.

During the Beijing Games, the combined total coverage is expected to be around three times that of the Athens Games, he said.

Lumme also hailed the opening ceremony of the Games as a sports-related event with the highest broadcast rating for Chinese television.

“A staggering 842 million people in China tuned in to watch the coverage of the opening ceremony,” he said.

“Although we won’t have the complete definitive global statistics for sometime yet, indications are that the figure for the total viewing in the world could be around 1.2 billion people,” he said, adding that the figures from the major markets of the world had in general surpassed those for the opening ceremonies of the Sydney and Athens Games.

In the US, NBC also registered the largest audience Saturday night in 18 years as over 40 million viewers tuned in to watch Michael Phelps win his record eighth gold medal at one Games.

In China, over one billion people have already watched some Olympic sports coverage. To cater to this demand, CCTV, IOC’s broadcast partner in China, has dedicated a total of nine channels to the Games’ coverage, Lumme said.

The Beijing Olympics also feature an unprecedented level of digital media coverage. Live broadband Internet coverage, including online high definition and mobile phone video clips, is available across the world.

At the Athens Games four years ago, only eight countries and regions in the world experimented with some delayed Internet coverage, said Lumme.

“Taking the US as an example, our US partner NBC’s Olympic website is receiving 30 times more video views online than it did in Athens and 12 times more mobile phone clip downloads than it did for the Toronto 2006 winter Games,” he said.

In China, in the first 12 days of the competition, 102 million people watched live broadcast of the Games online, with another 146 million watching video on demand online.

In addition, the IOC has launched its own online channels to broadcast the Beijing Games in 77 countries and regions across Africa, Asia and the Middle East including India, Nigeria and Indonesia.

There were 12 million online video views when India’s Abhinav Bindra won a shooting gold medal, the first individual Olympic gold for the country, Lumme said.

“This marks the first time that the IOC has produced footages to the end users directly,” he said.

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