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SBD Global/August 27, 2012/Media

Channel 4 Hopes For Paralympic Gold As Advertisers Drum Up Excitement

Channel 4 hopes its Paralympics coverage will yield big numbers in the U.K.
Channel 4's recent "Meet the Superhumans" promotional campaign for its wall-to-wall Paralympics coverage in the U.K. "won widespread praise," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. To a booming Public Enemy soundtrack, it demonstrated the elements many hope the broadcaster would bring to its coverage of the Games. The big test, 150 hours of live sport coverage, is still to come. When Channel 4 grabbed the Paralympics broadcast rights in '10, it was seen as an "opportunity not only for the broadcaster to dive back into sport, which it had all but abandoned despite its cricket and racing heritage, but to redefine itself in the post-Big Brother age." Channel 4 Paralympics Editor Deborah Poulton said, "This is by far the biggest event the channel has ever done. It's a fantastic opportunity for us." The coverage will "dominate the schedules" over the 10 days of competition, fronted by a combination of well-known broadcasters, such as Clare Balding and Ade Adepitan. There will also be "new talent" produced by a £500,000 ($791,000) search to "unearth new disabled presenters." Advertisers are "understandably excited" about the fact that the Paralympics will be shown on a channel with commercial breaks. Online grocery store Sainsbury's will be sponsoring the coverage, but it "remains to be seen what the reaction of audiences will be." The other unanswered question is how many viewers will tune in to the wall-to-wall programs on Channel 4 without the "amplifying effect of the BBC's radio and online coverage" (GUARDIAN, 8/26).

GOING ONLINE: In London, Burrell & Brand reported that Channel 4 will be offering three live stream channels -- C4 Paralympics Extra 1, 2 and 3 -- to try to "replicate the 24 red-button channels of the BBC." The live streams will be shown on Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media and the Channel 4 website, morning till night. The channel "will be hoping to prove its reputation as a broadcasting innovator" through Lexi, a graphics system intended to simplify the sometimes confusing classification systems of Paralympic events. Competitors in eight of the 20 sports will be "assigned figures in various colours from green to red to denote the degree of their impairment." The graphic system, devised by Paralympic Gold Medalist Giles Long, also denotes missing limbs, dwarfism and learning disabilities (INDEPENDENT, 8/26).
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