Paralympic coverage beyond 'wildest dreams' says governing body as they appeal for continued coverage of sports

 

The International Paralympic Committee said last night that media coverage of the London games had exceeded its “wildest dreams” but appealed to sponsors and broadcasters not to abandon its sports for the next four years.

After round-the-clock television coverage and daily front page pictures, the Paralympic governing body is anxious that media interest does not sharply fall away until the Rio games in 2016. “I don't expect Paralympic sports to be front page news when the games aren't here but hopefully they will enjoy a far bigger profile,” said Craig Spence, the IPC head of communications.

The first big tests will come with media coverage of the Paralympic Athletics World Championships in Lyon in July 2013, followed by the Swimming World Championships in Canada the following month. Disabled sports have previously struggled to market the rights to cover such events to broadcasters and some will be offered as part of the rights package to the Rio games, which Channel 4 will again bid for.

Talks are due to open with Paralympic sporting bodies in around two weeks. “The Paralympics have been great for Channel 4 and we would be mad to simply break off and walk away,” said Stuart Cosgrove, C4's director of creative diversity. “Rio will be a creative fist fight for the rights. We will put forward a strong argument based on the airtime we have given and the creative energies we have brought to it.”

Media organisations are recognising the broad level of public interest in such spectacles. The Disabled British Open golf tournament will be featured in an hour-long show on Sky Sports 3 on 18 September. Channel 4 has enjoyed its best weekend viewing figures for seven years and the 11.2m who watched the Opening Ceremony was its largest audience in a decade. The Australian Paralympic broadcaster ABC also had strong ratings, in spite of time differences.

The evidence that the London Paralympics have been a boon to the British media is irrefutable. Channel 4, nervous at having committed to 500 hours of coverage of its first games, ended up clearing the daytime schedule of its flagship channel and shifting Hollyoaks to E4 to feed the Paralympics appetite. Following the success of its project to use disabled presenters to analyse the games, C4 is to spend a further £250,000 in searching for more disabled talent to host programmes on subjects beyond the world of sport. New shows are being planned for some of the Paralympic presenters who have broken through during the games coverage.

Day after day the quality newspapers dedicated front page coverage to the achievements of Team GB's Paralympians, embracing their uplifting stories in what is traditionally the quietest period of the annual news cycle. News International decided to continue its “The Times of London Souvenir Edition” wraparound covers that it pioneered during the Olympics.

The IPC has been stunned by the “unprecedented” media attention the sports have received around the world and, especially in Britain. “The coverage in Great Britain has been sensational, it has been beyond my wildest dreams,” said Spence.

The frenzy of media interest drove people to the Paralympic governing body's own outlets, quadrupling the number of friends on the Paralympic Games Facebook site from 30,000 at the opening event to 117,000. The @paralympic Twitter account grew to 37,000 followers. The IPC became a broadcaster, streaming five sports a day from its website and uploading films to YouTube where it quickly logged more than 1 million downloads (a quarter of them for the controversial sprint duel between Alan Oliveira and Oscar Pistorius).

But with the media under great financial pressure, future spending on disability sport will need to show commercial value. The level of media coverage will be crucial to winning sponsorship, said Mike Parker, director of sponsorship at the media agency Carat. He said sponsors would assess whether the level of interest in the London Paralympics was “an anomaly” caused by the success of Team GB at the Olympics and London's position in the global economy.

“Sponsors looking to continue their involvement and achieve maximum value from media would be best placed to create long-term partnerships with Paralympic associations and significant British athletes,” he said. “Continuing the story behind individual athletes and teams will allow them to engage with their audience in a meaningful way,” he said.

The IPC will aim to present the media with sports personalities to follow by updating the 54 names on its “Ones to Watch” list, which was prescient in highlighting medallists at London 2012. The emergence of the Brazilian Oliveira - who forced football off the back pages of the newspapers in his home country - is a public relations gift ahead of the Rio games.

Spence spoke of a “slight disappointment” that the feverish commitment to the games of the British broadsheet press had not always crossed over to the red tops but, nonetheless, tabloid coverage was “more than I expected”.

He praised the BBC for featuring the Paralympics heavily in its news bulletins despite losing coverage rights to Channel 4. “A lot of people when they lose the rights just walk away.” The BBC said it would be reviewing the “success of the Olympics and Paralympics” to see “what opportunities there are going forward” for future coverage.

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates his goal
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Homer meets Lego Marge in the 25th anniversary episode of The Simpsons, set to air on 4 May
tv
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Arts & Entertainment
film
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Life & Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 63rd anniversary of the Peak District National Park
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal