With the hype and fanfare of the Olympics quickly becoming a distant memory, attention turns towards the London 2012 Paralympics. The BBC’s coverage of the games was an unquestionable success with its truly digital reporting utilising all its available platforms – and now the baton has been picked up by Channel 4 – Thanks for the warm up.
There can be no questioning Channel 4’s commitment in its support of the Paralympics with its biggest ever marketing campaign behind the event. Built around a TV ‘roadblock’ on the 29th August at 2100 across 78 channels, the campaign showcases Channel 4’s highly evocative 90 sec creative, and is also supported by a heavyweight outdoor campaign.
Channel 4 has also backed up its marketing campaign for the Paralympics through its scheduling of the Games. Following the opening ceremony on the 29th August the Channel 4 schedule will be dominated by coverage. First is the Paralympic Games Breakfast Show, kicking off at 7am, then Morning and Afternoon at the Games. Coverage then switches to More4 before returning with the tea-time show Evening at the Games and then concluded with the synopsise show, The Last Leg with Adam Hills. Viewing will also be supported by three additional digital channels, a Paralympic app and a dedicated section on the Channel 4 website. Not to mention the high profile presenting team, which includes Jon Snow and Claire Balding. This is in contrast to BBCs coverage in 2008 which was limited to highlights shows during the week and weekend live coverage.
Channel 4 is in no doubt fulfilling its public service remit through its support and coverage of the Paralympics, but will it be a commercial success? Enthusiasm for the Olympics was absolutely sky high with Britain’s feel good factor unnervingly positive over the past few weeks, but whether this will transcend to the Paralympics remains to be seen – especially considering the two week break and the return of other distractions such as the start of the football season. Paralympic ticket sales would seem to suggest a positive attitude, with 2.1m of the 2.5m tickets sold. However, if people are, as has been suggested, buying tickets for the experience of the Olympic stadia rather than the sport, it may not transcend into TV viewing figures.
Channel 4 sales desperately need the Paralympics to be a success, with YTD revenue down around 4% YTD and key audiences of ABC1 ads down 6% and 16-34 ads 7%. Advertising has been sold in packages for Paralympic access, of which Channel 4 has currently only sold around 70%, although access to the opening ceremony has all gone. As the potential audience is heavily ABC1, advertisers targeting younger viewers have been deterred from investing in Channel 4 over the Games, as there is zero 16-34 targeted programming. This in turn is inflating the price of this audience as viewing (impacts) will be down.
The commercial success of the Paralympics based on viewing figures has no precedence. Never before have the Paralympics been screened by a commercial broadcaster, on home soil, on the back of Britain’s best Olympics and with such strong marketing support. We’re hoping that for the sake of Channel 4 – and of course, for our amazing Paralympians – that the Games is just as successful and memorable for the UK as the Olympics.