An official with the International Olympic Committee said here on Wednesday that the Beijing Olympic Games look to be the biggest broadcast event in the Olympic history.
There is an unprecedented amount of Olympic sports content available, with around 5,000 hours of coverage provided for viewers in around 200 countries and regions worldwide through the rights holding broadcast partners, Timo Lumme, managing director of IOC Television and Marketing Services, said at a press conference in the Games' Main Press Center.
During the Beijing Games, these partners are expected to make a combined total coverage which will be around three times that of the Athens Games, Lumme claimed.
He also hailed the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games as a sports-related event with the highest broadcast rating in the history of Chinese television.
"A staggering 842 million people in China tuned in to watch some coverage of the Opening Ceremony," he said.
"Although we won't have the complete definitive global statistics for sometime yet, indications suggested that the figure for the total viewing in the world could be around 1.2 billion people," he said, adding that the figures from the major markets of the world had in general surpassed those for the opening ceremonies of the Sydney and Athens Games.
In the United States, the NBC also registered the largest audience on Saturday night for 18 years as over 40 million viewers tuned in to watch Michael Phelps win his record eighth gold medal at one Games.
In China, over one billion people have already watched some Olympic sports coverage. To cater for this demand, CCTV, IOC's broadcast partner in China, has dedicated nine channels to the Games' overage, Lumme said.
The Beijing Olympic Games also feature an unprecedented level of digital media coverage. Live broadband Internet coverage, including online high definition and mobile phone video clips, is available across the world.
At the Athens Games four years ago, only eight countries and regions in the world experimented with some delayed Internet coverage, said Lumme.
"Taking the United States as an example, our partner in the United States, the NBC's Olympic website is receiving 30 times more video views online than it did in Athens and 12 times more mobile phone clip downloads than it did for the Torino 2006 winter Games," he said.
In China, in the first 12 days of the competition, 102 million people watched live broadcast of the Games online, with another 146 million watching video on demand online.
In addition, the IOC has launched its own online channels to broadcast the Beijing Games in 77 countries and regions across Africa, Asia and the Middle East including India, the Republic of Korea, Nigeria and Indonesia.
There were 12 million online video views on India's Abhnav Bindra winning a shooting gold medal, the first individual Olympic gold for the country, Lumme said.
"This marks the first time that the IOC has produced footages to the end users directly," he claimed.
MAKING OLYMPIC GAMES REACH MORE PEOPLE
"We expected a global reach of approximately 4.5 billion people. As you all know, it is the mission of the IOC to make available the Olympic Games coverage to as many people as possible around the world," Lumme said.
Particular emphasis has been paid on supporting those areas and regions of the world for whom access maybe a little bit more challenging.
"So in that context, we are pleased that in regions such as the sub-Sahara in Africa and in the Caribbean, our respective broadcast partners, the African broadcasting union and the Caribbean broadcasting union, have doubled the amount of coverage for Beijing Olympic Games from that of the Athens Games.
The very big positive effect for the IOC and for the Olympic movement is that the global interest for the Olympic Games is growing, Lumme claimed.
"We always knew that bringing the Games to China of course would open up the Olympic Games. And we are particularly happy that we have been able to work very closely with our partners to harness the technology of media to reach more people than ever before," he said.