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BBC sets new viewing record with Olympics opening ceremony

London Olympics 2012

Story by Jack Foley

THE BBC1’s coverage of the London 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony has set a new TV record for viewers.

Coverage of the “Danny Boyle-directed”: opening ceremony averaged 22.4 million viewers to become the most-watched TV show of the year so far (ahead of the Jubilee and any Euro 2012 football match), as well as one of the top 20 programmes in UK TV history ever.

It also meant the biggest Olympics opening audience in Britain in at least two decades.

The record came when the public broadcaster’s audience for the 9pm-12:50am show reached a five-minute peak of 26.9 million, which set a new record for at least a sports broadcast since the introduction of five-minute highs.

Other recent five-minute audience peaks for sports events on TV included 23.2 million British viewers for last month’s Euro 2012 soccer tournament match between England and Italy, and this year’s Wimbledon final between Scotland’s Andy Murray and Roger Federer, which attracted 17.1 million.

Overall, the opening ceremony was the UK’s 13th most watched programme ever.

The release of the overnight figures promptedRoger Mosey, BBC’s director for London 2012, to tweet they were “absolutely amazing”.

The highest ever television viewing figure remains a Christmas Day edition of EastEnders which aired in 1986 to attract 30.5 million.

But one Olympic event does sit in the top 10, ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony, and that was ice-dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean performing at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, which attracted 23.95m.

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