The battle of the opening ceremonies

Posted on 30/08/2012


On the surface of the figures, Channel 4 will be delighted that last night’s Paralympic Opening Ceremony attracted the station’s largest audience share since the peak of Big Brother.

And today’s blanket front page coverage for the Paralympics (only the Express don’t fully lead with the Opening Ceremony) is a positive sign that the Games may help address negative stereotypes about disabled people.

But, there is a but.

In the battle of the Beijing Opening Ceremonies, 5.4m watched the Olympic ceremony, compared to 2.8m who watched the Paralympic ceremony. A ratio of 1.9 Olympic viewers for every Paralympic viewer. Or… 51% of Olympic viewers tuned in again to watch the Paralympic ceremony.

And last night’s figures show that this gap has grown.

26.9m watched the Olympic Opening Ceremony with just 10.89m watching last night’s event. 2.4 Olympic viewers for every Paralympic viewer. Or just 40% of Olympic viewers watched again last night.

The ridiculous decision to open the Games on a Wednesday (rather than a Friday) night won’t help. Nor will the negative press and social media chat throughout yesterday of the torch running late. But perhaps it also shows that the brilliant Channel 4 Superhumans’ campaign needs to rachet up another notch and that the Paralympics still has work to do to convince people to tune in?