Paralympics set to reach record aud

Deals inked covering more than 100 countries

LONDON — The Paralympics, which bow Wednesday, are expected to a reach a record global TV audiences.

The Games’ organizer, Locog, has signed deals with 11 new broadcasters, taking the total to 36, covering more than 100 countries.

The latest deals include broadcasters covering the U.S., Latin America, Pakistan, Ireland, Canada, Iran and New Zealand.

In the U.S., video content will air on the U.S. Paralympics YouTube channel, as well as via NBC, which plans five and a half hours of pre-recorded coverage.

Elsewhere, pay TV outfits Sky NZ in New Zealand and Ireland’s Setanta, and pubcaster the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting have agreed deals to show the Paralympics.

In Latin and Central America, excluding Brazil, ESPN will cover the Paralympics, while in Canada, the Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium is to show the opening and closing ceremonies plus daily highlights and multiple live streams.

In the U.K., pubcaster Channel 4, originally set up 30 years ago to cater for minorities, is screening more than 150 hours of Paralympic programming, four times the amount aired during the Beijing Paralympics.

The network won the rights after a bidding war with the BBC, the first in Paralympic history.

Channel 4’s coverage is the subject of a high-profile marketing campaign.

The web hopes to capitalize on the huge success of the London Olympics, which left the U.K. on a high and gave the BBC a massive boost in audience levels and credibility.

Channel 4 insists there are sound commercial reasons for putting so much effort into the Paralympics, but hopes to help effect social change by showcasing the Games.

Speaking recently at the Edinburgh Television Festival, Channel 4 CEO David Abraham said: “The forthcoming Paralympic Games will, we hope, create a new and wider audience for Paralympic sports and a lasting legacy in terms of public attitudes.

“This is not, as some might argue, political correctness for its own sake, this is about directing the creative potential of television towards stimulating progress and change.”

Locog said more TV deals may be in the pipeline.