The broadcast story so far

Great Britain’s Paralympians Gold, Silver and Bronze medal performances, their World, Paralympic, European and British records, all covered on the nation’s Paralympic broadcaster, Channel 4.

I remember in 2009, when I was at London 2012, we had all the UK broadcasters keen to cover the Paralympic Games, coming with serious production schedules and equally serious bags of cash.  Why, though, did we choose Channel 4?

Simple. They shared our vision of what the Games could be, should be and – with their support – would be in the summer of 2012.  I put it to them, we were not looking to nudge the dial, make incremental change, celebrated though that would have been. I knew, if we got it right we could create an entirely new Paralympic Paradigm.  They saw this too.

So, wind forward nine years and we are in the midst of Great British Paralympic performances brought to us all via the Great British Paralympic broadcaster: Channel 4.

And what a sporting, an accessible, an inclusive a national sharing experience it has been.

Clare, Baldingly brilliant as always.  A sensational sports broadcaster, well on track for National Treasure status. I caught a lovely interview the week before the Paralympic Games on Times radio where Ruth Davidson interviewed Clare.  It was both of them at their best, witty and full of warmth. 

What stuck out for me was when Clare talked movingly about Helen Rollason who had spearheaded the BBC Paralympic coverage in the 1990s.  Helen, another brilliant broadcaster, cruelly taken from us so far ahead of her time.  She saw the Paralympic possibilities, not least from a broadcast perspective, far ahead of so many. 

I was fortunate to spend time with Helen around the Barcelona Games and on to Atlanta. She got it. She understood and she communicated that to the viewers.  It was an honour to know Helen.  I remember being at her memorial service, tears streaming down, listening to Rob Bonnet read the eulogy.  It encapsulated it all, the power of sport to transcend, its power to change people and societies, its power to make not “a” but “the” difference.  I feel the emotion of that day as I write right now.  As Rob perfectly put it:

“To be told you have a matter of months to live might make cowards of us all.

“Bitterness, self-defeat and pity might cause us to close our lives down, but that wasn’t Helen Rollason’s way.”

And it is that spirit, her spirit which lives on, not least in every Paralympic broadcast, Tokyo 2020 as true as any.

And we see it in those presenting the sport as well as the athletes.  More disabled talent presenting Paralympic sport than ever before: Ade Adepitan, Arthur Williams, Sophie Morgan, JJ Chalmers and Giles Long to name but a few.

So, to some of the broadcast stats from week one of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games:

Channel 4’s coverage of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games (up to 30 August) has reached 16.4m people; 27% of the television viewing population in the UK across Channel 4 and More 4

A peak audience of 1.2m viewers watched ParalympicsGB star Jonnie Peacock win bronze in the most hotly contested men’s T64 100m ever on 30 August

A peak audience of 1m viewers watched the ParalympicsGB Wheelchair Rugby team win Paralympic gold on 29 August

The first week of the Tokyo Paralympics (24 August-29 August) attracted Channel 4’s best live weekly daytime share of audience since the London 2012 Paralympic Games (6am-6pm)

Daytime live coverage and Paralympics Breakfast is attracting three times Channel 4’s average audience, with coverage through the night pulling in double the channel’s average audience.

There were 1.1m views on C4Paralympics Twitter feed for the interview with ParalympicsGB swimmer Ellie Robinson

In the first 7 days of the Tokyo Paralympics, tweets from C4Paralympics have had 224.9m impressions, videos on Channel 4 Paralympics Facebook page have been viewed 2.7m times and Channel 4 Paralympics Instagram posts have had 553.7k impressions

There are some of the numbers. Important, yes, but it is the stories that stand out, the stories that will stand the test of time. Jaco van Gass’s glittering gold last week, Maisie Summers Newton, Lee Pearson and golden, silvery and bronzed many, many more.

Thirteen hundred hours of Paralympic broadcast on the nation’s Paralympic broadcaster. Every moment a moment to cherish, a moment to inspire change.

Here’s to the final weekend. Switch on, log on, view, listen, love Paralympics on Channel 4.

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