London, U.K. — Live coverage of the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony Friday night by Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium has broken records as the most-watched Summer Olympic Games broadcast on record in Canada. On average, 6.4 million Canadians watched the late-afternoon, 3.5- hour-plus ceremony from 4-7:30 p.m. ET, making it the second most-watched Opening Ceremony on record in Canada behind Vancouver 2010 (13.5 million).
The audience eclipsed the previous Summer Olympic record-holder, the Atlanta 1996 opening ceremony (4.3 million), by 49%, and delivered nearly four times the audience of Beijing 2008 opening ceremony (1.6 million) and more than four times the audience of Athens 2004 opening ceremony (1.4 million). Last Friday’s prime time encore broadcast of the opening ceremony attracted 3 million viewers from 7:45 – 11 p.m. ET, while earlier in the day 1.6 million Canadians watched the Consortium’s opening ceremony pre-show from 2-4 p.m. ET.
Airing live across Consortium networks in six languages (English, French, Mandarin, Cantonese, Tamil, Punjabi), an astonishing 16.6 million viewers, or nearly one in every two Canadians, tuned in to some part of the ceremony. Overall, 64% of Canadians watched some Olympic Games coverage on the Consortium’s channels on Friday. The television coverage peaked at 8.1 million viewers at 7:36 p.m. ET when the Olympic Cauldron was lit.
Meanwhile, nearly 1.5 million Canadians watched CTV national news with Lisa LaFlamme live from London, an increase of 36% compared to its summer average.
Directed by two-time Academy Award-winner Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), the Opening Ceremony took viewers on a whirlwind visual and musical ride through London’s rich history, from Shakespeare to the industrial revolution to present day. Appearances were made by Daniel Craig as the iconic character James Bond, alongside Queen Elizabeth II, soccer star David Beckham, beloved Harry Potter author J.K Rowling, Mr. Bean star Rowan Atkinson, and a stellar closing performance of “Hey Jude” by the legendary Paul McCartney.
Image Courtesy of London 2012