Sir Philip confident Sochi 2014 Paralympic viewing figures will be best ever with 100 days to go

Wednesday, 27 November 2013
By Gary Anderson

November 27 - Sir Philip Craven is confident that Sochi 2014 will produce record viewing figures for a Winter Paralympic Games © Getty Images With exactly 100 days to go until the start of Sochi 2014, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven has claimed he is confident viewing figures for the Games will be the highest ever as big television contracts are already in place.

With a number of broadcast deals due to be announced shortly, Sir Philip insists that the deals already in place with Channel 4 in Britain, NBC in America and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) in Europe look set to smash all previous viewing records for the Winter Games which are due to open on March 7.

"With 100 days to go, we have more contracts in place with broadcasters than we did at this stage going into Vancouver, so we are fully confident of breaking previous figures," said the Briton, elected to serve as IPC President for a fourth term at the organisation's General Assembly in Athens on Sunday (November 24).

"The deal we announced this year with NBC in the USA is huge as it opens up the Games to millions of new viewers who will be able to watch the Paralympics for the very first time.

"All the deals we have announced, and are on the verge of announcing, are also for more hours.

"In 2014 people will have more chance to see the Games around the world and will be able to watch far more too.

"The signs are that more people than ever before will watch the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi next March."

The Vancouver 2010 Winter Paralympics attracted a global viewing audience of 1.6 billion according to IPC © Getty Images The Vancouver 2010 Winter Paralympics attracted a global viewing audience of 1.6 billion according to IPC ©Getty Images

A cumulative television audience worldwide of 1.6 billion viewers watched the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games, according to the IPC, which was a record.

With the success of London 2012, which is said to have attracted an audience of 3.8 billion, the IPC is banking on that interest in Paralympic sport to be carried over to Sochi 2014.

Channel 4's coverage of London 2012 saw the channel pick up a number of awards including the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award for best sport and live event.

Earlier this year, the broadcaster is believed to have paid out around £7million ($11.3 million/€8.4 million) to secure the rights to Paralympic coverage of Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016, which will see it broadcast around 45 hours of coverage from Sochi and 500 hours from Rio.

Meanwhile, American broadcaster NBC agreed a similar deal with the IPC in September which will see it broadcast 50 hours of coverage from Sochi 2014 and 66 hours during Rio 2016.

This followed criticism of the broadcaster by the IPC for its coverage of London 2012 which saw not a single minute of live action broadcast on any of its channels, opting instead to show four 60-minute highlights packages on one its more obscure cable channels.

Sochi will see around 750 athletes from 45 countries competing for medals across alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, ice sledge hockey and wheelchair curling.

With 100 days to go, Sir Philip is urging the Russian public to get out and buy tickets for the events and believes that the prospect of the hosts finishing atop the medal table to better their second place finish at Vancouver 2010 will encourage fans to get out and support the Games.

With some major broadcast deals in place Sir Philip claims Sochi 2014 will break viewing records © Getty Images With some major broadcast deals in place Sir Philip claims Sochi 2014 will break viewing records ©Getty Images

"You only have to look at the last two years of results from the five winter sports to realise that Russia are the team to beat next March," he said.

"In Nordic skiing they are absolute powerhouses, whilst in ice sledge hockey and wheelchair curling they are amongst the top teams in the world and serious medal contenders on home ice.

"They also have a number of brilliant alpine skiers who could medal on the Rosa Khutor slopes.

"The organising committee has created some superb venues for athletes to compete in and, with a brilliant home team; this is an event that the Russian public should not miss out on.

"We may be 100 days away from the Games, but the performances of Russian athletes next year have the potential to not only create strong national pride but also help change perceptions of people with an impairment."

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September 2012: More Paralympics coverage needed in the US says IPC chief following NBC snub
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