Viewers flock in record numbers to Olympics

MUMBAI: The Athens Olympics in August broke global TV viewing records, with nearly four billion people tuning in,.

As had been reported earlier by Doordarshan tripled its reach with the games.

IOC president Jacques Rogge said that 3.9 billion people watched an Olympic broadcast at least once during the August 13-29 games. This beat the previous record of 3.6 billion viewers for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. .

Despite unfavourable time zones, Asia was the continent that registered the most significant increases in coverage and viewer hours. China clocked in nine billion viewer hours, as each individual watched over eight hours of Olympic coverage, reflecting the nation's greater viewing choice from dedicated 'around the clock' Olympic coverage. Chinese viewers were able to enjoy more than 53 hours of prime time coverage, which attracted an average audience of 85 million viewers.

Japan dedicated over 700 hours to the Games which was double what they had done for Sydney. Each individual watched 29 hours of coverage as the team finished fifth in the overall standings, ten places better then four years previously.

In the US 203 million viewers (unduplicated) watched at least some of the Athens Games. This is the highest for any Olympic Games held outside the US. The 2004 total viewership beat Sydney by 14 per cent.

To put those figures in perspective, NBC's Olympic coverage ranked as the top programme every night of the week during the Games. NBC's decision to spread its coverage to its cable channels paid off, with CNBC, MSNBC, USA, Bravo and Telemundo attracting over 60 million additional viewers.

In Europe viewing hours were up by 50 per cent compared to Sydney 2000. Europeans watched in average 14 hours of the Athens Games. In Germany, viewers consumed 11 hours of Olympic coverage, 4.5 hours more than in Sydney. ZDF and ARD broadcast 16 hours of Olympic coverage every day, with four digital channels offering around the clock programming.

In Great Britain, each viewer consumed over 13 hours of Olympic coverage. Viewers also benefited from the BBC's digital interactive service that offered up to five times as much choice of sports. 8.96 million viewers used this service;

Coming back to India Reliance was one of the companies that advertised heavily on Doordarshan. Mudra's Amit Ray who handles media planning for the Ambani owned company made the following remarks about the benefits gained through the association, " Not only did we get huge visibility in non c&s homes the average rating of Olympics were higher than Tennis (both Wimbledon & US Open) even in c&s homes. "

Drawing a comparison with cricket Ray added, " Though the popularity of the bat and ball game is beyond question we must not forget that though the 10 second price of a normal match (ODI) has reached the sky only one match - India vs. Pakistan justifies that.

"Unfortunately people are so blinded by the allure attached to the game that a similar price is being paid for matches involving teams like Bangladesh and Kenya in the disguise of a tournament.

"The Olympics was seen by a lot of people on DD contrary to popular Metro belief. In fact our ads got a huge average rating which is comparable with some key programmes of DD."

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