23m watch the London 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony party

The sporting event ends with almost exactly the same number of viewers as it began with

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It might not have been an artistic success to rival Danny Boyle’s much-lauded Isles of Wonder, but last night’s London 2012 Closing Ceremony generated some bumper ratings for the BBC, enticing an average audience of more than 23m people to tune in and see the Games’ last hurrah.

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The “ultimate aftershow party,” to borrow Locog’s phrase, attracted an average audience of 22.9m (an enormous 80.7% share) between 9:00pm-12:20am on BBC1, and another 202,500 people (0.7%) tuned in to watch the celebration unfold on Red Button channel BBC Olympics 1. A further 83,000 tech-savvy viewers (0.3%) opted to see the event in eyeball-searing clarity and fired up their state-of-the-art TVs to see the ceremony on BBC HD.

A peak of 26.3m people (78.4%) tuned in to BBC1, HD and Olympics 1 at 9:35pm to see athletes and volunteers alike parading through the stadium, and the ceremony’s biggest share across the three channels came at 11:30pm, when 86% of the total TV audience, some 22m souls, watched as the last hour’s musical proceedings got underway.

18.5m (85.4m) viewers stopped up late and were still watching at midnight, and the ceremony closed with an audience of 10.3m (75%) on BBC1 at the clock crept round towards half past.

In fact, the Closing Ceremony’s ratings almost exactly mirrored those of Danny Boyle’s much-lauded Opening Ceremony, which was seen by an average of 23m people and enjoyed a five-minute peak of 27m on Friday 27 July.

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Both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies drew bigger peaks than last year’s Royal Wedding, which hit a high of 20m viewers, and the England football team’s quarter final loss at Euro 2012 in June, which boasted a peak of 23.2m viewers, resoundingly confirming the popularity of the Olmypics. Or at least the pyrotechnic-laden celebrations they inspire, at any rate…