NBC’s Poor Coverage of Paralympics Prompts Games To Reevaluate Broadcasting Partners

NBC touts its coverage of the 2012 London Olympic Games, which drew a total of 219 million viewers, as “the most-watched television event in U.S. history.” However, the same cannot be said for network’s treatment of the Paralympic Games. Though the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games drew 7.7 million viewers last night, NBC’s coverage of the games does not begin until September 16 and will consist of just five and half hours of highlights. In contrast, the United Kingdom’s Channel 4 aired 400 hours of Paralympic coverage, Australia’s ABC aired more than 100. Viewers in Japan watched nightly one-hour highlights during the Paralympics.

The president of the International Paralympic Committee, Sir Philip Craven, told BBC his group will examine their potential broadcasting partners’ values more closely after NBC failed to broadcast any live coverage of the games:

CRAVEN: We’ll examine their values as they will examine ours. If the values fit, we’ve got a chance. If they don’t we’ll go somewhere else. […] The people of the USA, for example, particularly the parents and families of the athletes, they are all ready for Paralympic sport.

NBC said that this year’s five and a half hours of Paralympics coverage is an improvement of its coverage of the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, which consisted of “a single 90-minute highlights package.” For some Paralympics advocates, however, that improvement doesn’t go nearly far enough.

— Greg Noth