The sporting triumphs of our Team GB athletes may be slowly fading into a distant memory, but Channel 4 are determined to keep Paralympic sport in the public eye. The broadcaster has followed up their successful coverage of London 2012 by securing the rights to the 2014 and 2016 Paralympic Games – the first time a two Games contract has been agreed with a TV station.
The deal – which was granted by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) – requires Channel 4 to screen over 45 hours of coverage from the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, plus a minimum of 200 broadcast hours of the Rio 2016 Summer Paralympics.
The Rio package is set to include live events, highlights and the return of The Last Leg which was a hit with viewers last summer and has since been granted a standalone series hosted by Adam Hills.
Channel 4 is also expected to show a series of major international para-sports events during the build-up to Rio 2016, including next July’s IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon, France, as well as August’s IPC Swimming World Championships from Montreal, Canada.
The broadcaster was widely praised for its coverage of last summer’s Games, which broke UK viewing records for Paralympic sport, beaming images of Ellie Simmonds, Sarah Storey and David Weir to 69% of the population.
As part of their coverage, the channel trained up 10 new presenters and reporters with disabilities, a number of whom are expected to reprise their roles for future para-sports coverage. One of Channel 4’s new reporters will also be trained up to become a dedicated Paralympic correspondent on Channel 4 news.
Following the announcement, IPC President Sir Philip Craven said, “We are delighted to extend our partnership with Channel 4 following its stunning success in covering the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
“With London 2012 Channel 4 created a blueprint for how a commercial broadcaster can raise the profile of Paralympic sport and its athletes to new levels. They reached record audiences, in particular young people, identified and developed some fantastic new presenting talent and played a significant role in delivering seismic shifts in attitudes and perceptions towards people with an impairment in the UK.”
Channel 4’s Chief Executive, David Abraham, added: “Not only did Channel 4’s coverage reach record audiences but, more importantly, it had a meaningful and positive impact on UK attitudes to disability sport in general. I am delighted that we have the opportunity to build on this achievement over the next four years.”