Aside from the backlash following repeated ad breaks during the Paralympic Opening Ceremony, it’s been a pretty good week for Channel 4. Since competition began last Wednesday the broadcaster has enjoyed big audiences, with a peak of 3.3m tuning in to watch Team GB’s Superhuman Saturday medal-winning athletes, including the 2.9m who cheered on 17-year-old swimmer Ellie Simmonds as she won gold in the 400m S6 freestyle.
The broadcaster topped expectations on Saturday night as the most watched channel in the UK between 5:50pm and 6:30pm, enjoying its biggest Saturday ratings share in seven years and beating Simon Cowell’s game show Red or Black? presented by Ant and Dec.
As a result the network has decided to increase coverage on their flagship channel, switching popular late-afternoon shows The Simpsons, Deal or No Deal and Come Dine With Me to its sister channel More4 to make way for more Paralympics coverage.
In addition, its evening showing of Hollyoaks – which has so far interrupted primetime Paralympics coverage on Channel 4 – will now be shown on E4 at its usual time of 6:30pm between September 3 and September 10, with the customary first look of the next episode following as normal at 7pm.
Following the rescheduling, the channel will now show daily Paralympics coverage from 7am to 11:15pm, with just a 30-minute break for the Channel 4 News at 7pm.
Jay Hunt, chief creative officer at Channel 4 said: “The coverage of the Paralympics has completely captured the public’s imagination. We are clearing our schedule to bring viewers even more of this fantastic sport.”
Team GB’s medals total now stands at an impressive 56, with 17 golds from the likes of star athletes David Weir, Ellie Simmonds, Richard Whitehead and Sarah Storey.
A Locog spokesman said: “The whole of the UK has taken the Games to its heart. As soon as tickets have been released, they have been snapped up.”