By Andrew Warshaw at the Main Press Centre on the Olympic Park in London

London 2012_fireworks_August_7_August 7 - London 2012 has heralded in "a new era in Olympic broadcasting", Timo Lumme, the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) marketing services director, declared today.

Television viewing figures for the Games have surpassed all previous records, said Lumme, reaching a maximum potential global reach of 4.8 billion across more countries than ever before.

"The London Games will be the biggest in terms of the amount of broadcast coverage made available to fans around the world," said Lumme.

"If you take all our broadcast partners and you add up all the hours they put out, that number for Beijing was 61,000 hours.

"For London it is likely to be over 100,000 hours."

London 2012 marks another milestone in terms of digital coverage.

"This will be the first time that the digital side will exceed the traditional television coverage," said Lumme.

A general_view_while_Lord_Sebastian_Coe_speaks_August_7Scene from the London 2012 Opening Ceremony that drew in an unprecedented BBC average audience of 22.4 million

Incredibly, so far in the UK, more than 50 million people have watched the Games at some point, representing over 88 percent of the population.

The peak audience since the Opening Ceremony was some 20 million for the men's 100 metres – the second highest Olympic audience in the UK of all time, after Torvill and Dean's final free dance routine in Sarajevo in 1984.

For the second day running, the IOC defended NBC's decision to show many events by tape delay including the men's 100 metres.

Pointing out that NBC had their best ever viewing for an Opening Ceremony of just under 41 million – even beating Atlanta on home soil in 1996 – Lumme said the daily average viewership in the United States was higher than any previous coverage of the Olympic Games in history in that country.

Atlanta 96_Opening_ceremony_August_7_More NBC viewers watched the London 2012 Opening Ceremony than they did Atlanta's in 1996

Teenage viewership in the US was up 29 percent, said Lumme, and had even better ratings than the number one rated prime time show on network television.

"We have had a long-standing relationship with NBC who have shown at every edition of the Games that they are capable at not only promoting but covering the Olympic Games wonderfully.

"If you compare the first week's [tape delayed] prime-time ratings on NBC with the average audiences from Beijing, where a lot of it was live, the London ratings were actually higher.

"I think they know what they're doing."

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