POSTED: October 17th 2012

Sportel: How will the legacy of London 2012 be impacting the sports media industry

The symposium focused on viewing habits during the London Games / Sportel
The symposium focused on viewing habits during the London Games / Sportel

Kevin Roberts, Editorial director of SportBusiness Group was the moderator of the symposium / Sportel
Kevin Roberts, Editorial director of SportBusiness Group was the moderator of the symposium / Sportel

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

October 17 – The London 2012 Games literally set a new Olympic record for following the Olympics across all screens. And not just your television.

During the Sportel Monaco meetings a fact finding symposium was held that drew on experiences from around the world about how viewers followed the Games.

The symposium was moderated by Kevin Roberts, editorial director of SportBusiness Group, and gathered a line-up of key minds that all had interesting tips on how people are changing their habits ikn watching the Games.

Roberts noted that the city was in a state of post-Olympic depression after the crowds left and the final closing ceremony of the Paralympics extinguished the last of the Olympic Flame.


Vincent Chupin, vice-president of television and audiovisual rights for the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said, “It’s an iconic city, the venues were fantastic, everybody was smiling and the atmosphere was absolutely the best.

“And another positive on the list was that London did well to fill the stadiums. Even for the track-and-field morning sessions, the venues were full.

“For the first time, we had free-to-air coverage everywhere in the world, even in the most remote island in the Pacific.

“Most free-to-air broadcasters offered 10 hours a day of Olympic coverage. We also offered 250 hours of live 3D coverage — much of it from sports that are not usually seen in the 3D — and that received very positive feedback.”


Craig Spence, director of communications and media at the International Paralympic Committee, talked about the huge pull the Paralympics had during London 2012.

Spence said, “The Paralympics were an unprecedented success. The athletes put on a tremendous show. In fact, the tone of the coverage changed half way through the event, with the focus turning from disability to celebrating great athletes at their pinnacle.”

Chupin also made note that, for the first time during these Games, there were more hours being broadcast on digital platforms than on traditional TV. And this actually worked in sync with traditional television. He labelled this the ‘game changer’.

Spence attributed a lot of the success of the Paralympics to the athletes and their stories and the outpush during the lead up to the Games with a new dynamic campaign by the IPC.

“Channel 4’s coverage can hopefully be a blueprint for other broadcasters covering the Paralympics in the future,” he said.

 “Beijing had made the world sit up and take notice of the Paralympics. So we went into the London Paralympics with high expectations — but we didn’t expect it to be that good. My personal highlight was Jonnie Peacock beating Oscar Pistorius the 100 meters. Nobody had heard of Peacock before the Paralympics — and there were 80,000 people chanting his name…”


Dave Gordon, acting director of the host nation broadcaster BBC, has worked with 10 Games. Looking back he observed that London 2012 was ‘much, much more fun’ he concluded.

“We now have more platforms and more content to play with, and more opportunities to do a great job for our audiences. Our big idea with London was never to miss a moment — to offer every session of every sport, every day. We are very proud that we achieved that.

There were several “nervous moments” along the way, however. Gordon said he was worried about audiences navigating such a vast volume of content spread across so many platforms. “But viewers found what they wanted from day one. It was great.”

Another point that Gordon took was that obviously there was still a “huge appetite for that shared experience, which is why London gave us such staggering statistics — like 28.7 million people watching the opening ceremony”.


Ciaran Quinn, director of Olympics and strategic business for the technology company that worked with 89 territories for the London Games predicted that these Games would touch one billion people.

He said, "The London Olympics met our expectations, but our expectations were very, very high. First, I think it will help rights-holders to use digital media to fill the broadcast hole. And second, it will help the rights-holders - the broadcasters - to engage with the audiences in a way that audiences now demand."


Laurent-Eric Le Lay, chairman and CEO of Eurosport, explained that he felt like the European rights holder would struggle to try to keep up with the two bigger networks such as NBC and the CBC.

Lay said, “So our idea was not to be too exhaustive. We promised a more international approach, and we also covered the smaller sports, such as weightlifting. In fact, weightlifting really surprised us by achieving fantastic ratings. It’s the first time we have seen the true potential of social media and it was astonishing.”


Canadian Broadcasting Corporation executive director, Jeffrey Orridge, hailed social media as the main advantage, “The activity on Twitter was amazing. In just one day in London, there were more tweets than there had been in the entire of the Beijing Olympics.

"We really saw the power of social media to curate and engage audiences as never before.”

Orridge felt that the social media platforms worked well to compliment TV coverage and served to "refresh" the Olympic brand by connecting with younger audiences.

He also attributed the success of the London organizers to influence the high numbers in coverage.

Some Key Points of London 2012:

• 204 Olympic committees sent athletes to London 2012

• 44% of the athletes at London 2012 were female

• 2.7 million tickets were sold to the London Paralympic Games

• 3,500 hours of HD Olympic content was screened by pay-TV channels, cable and satellite broadcasters and on the internet

• 250 hours of live 3D coverage was made available by the IOC

• 31.1 million was the average number of primetime viewers for NBC’s Olympic coverage

• 100,000-plus TV hours of Olympic content were broadcast this summer

• 28.7 million people watched the Olympic Opening Ceremony on NBC

• 96% of UK viewers said that the BBC’s Olympic coverage had met or exceeded their expectations

Keywords · Sportel · Olympics · IOC · IPC · BBC · Deltatre · NBC · CBC

For more information contact:
Laura Walden ()

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