Brits jump to watch Olympics

Success at Games sparks ratings high

Blighty’s unexpected cache of Olympic gold medals — the U.K. is third behind China and the U.S. — gave a huge boost to local TV viewing figures.

Team GB’s Golden Weekend, in which it won eight of the 12 gold medals it’s taken at the Games so far, was watched by 23.7 million (a 41.7% share), according to the BBC, which is the U.K.’s main Olympics broadcaster.

On Saturday, 2 million viewers stayed up until 1 a.m. local time (Beijing is seven hours ahead of the U.K.) to watch British marathon runner Paula Radcliffe as she failed to repeat her previous success in the long-distance race. She finished 23rd.

But the 500,000 Brits who stayed up until 3:30 a.m. to see swimmer Becky Adlington race in the 800 meters freestyle were rewarded when she came in first, drawing her second gold medal of the Games.

However, it was Jamaican runner Usain Bolt’s world record-breaking performance in Saturday’s 100 meters final that gave BBC1 its highest audience of the Games so far as 5.8 million watched the race.

The pubcaster estimates that 36.6 million (64.6% share) have tuned in to date to watch at least 15 minutes of Olympic coverage since the Games bowed Aug. 8.

The BBC website has also been doing record business thanks to the Olympics. On Aug. 11, 4.4 million unique users logged on to BBC Sport Online for Games coverage, giving the website its highest-ever daily audience. The previous best was 3.9 million users.

Last weekend saw another record for BBC Sport Online, with 3.3 million unique users on both Saturday and Sunday, according to the pubcaster.

British athletes scooped nine medals in all Saturday and four more the following day.

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