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SBD Global/September 7, 2012/Olympics

More Than 2.7 Million Tickets Sold, Paralympics Expected To Be Most Successful Ever

Jiske Griffioen of the Netherlands competes during the women's wheelchair bronze medal match of the Paralympics Thursday.
The London Paralympics have sold 2.7 million tickets for the 10-day event, putting it "on course to be the most commercially successful" in the 52-year history of the movement, according to Ashling O'Connor of the LONDON TIMES. Ticket sales have generated close to £45M ($72M), exceeding the £35M ($56M) figure organizers deemed as "ambitious" prior to the event. After the success of the Olympics, an extra 100,000 tickets were "released gradually" during the Paralympics. There were also 100,000 "roaming day passes" to the Olympic Park, which welcomed its 4 millionth visitor Wednesday since the start of the Olympics on July 27. LOCOG CEO Paul Deighton said that demand for the Paralympics had been "driven by the relatively cheap cost of tickets" (LONDON TIMES, 9/6).

MERCHANDISING MAGIC: In London, Jacquelin Magnay reported Deighton said that merchandise sales "had also been strong" during the Paralympics. Overall, the Games merchandising is expected to hit £1B ($1.5B) in sales, for a total revenue of £80M ($127M). The Paralympic Games had 65 licensees with the top-five sellers being the Union Jack Paralympic pin, the souvenir program, a T-shirt from adidas, a gold Parlaympic logo pin and the 20cm plush Paralympic mascot Mandeville. LOCOG also sold the Paralympic broadcast rights to more than 100 countries worldwide, including a "ground-breaking" £9M ($14M) deal with Channel 4 for the U.K. rights (TELEGRAPH, 9/6).

FAN FARE: Also in London, Matthew Pinsent asked, "What about the spectators?" Pinsent opined, "The spectator experience has been superb. Transport has worked and the volunteers have been everywhere; informative on the way in and high-fiving on the way out." He continued, "Even the food has been palatable. Anyone who has griped at the food hasn’t been to an Olympics before — fish and chips? As Monty Python’s Flying Circus might say, 'luxury.'" Pinsent added, "By far the most important attribute has been the knowledge and compassion of the crowd. They’ve gone into overdrive for British competitors, but you get home support at all Games. They have gone the extra mile by being vociferous at events in which there were no British interest. They’ve cheered other winners and, just as importantly, losers. There is a special sound in the Olympic Stadium when the crowd applaud a gallant finisher" (LONDON TIMES, 9/6). Channel 4's evening Paralympics show had an average of 2.5 million viewers, an 11.8% share, between 7:30pm and 10:30pm, with a five-minute peak of 3.3 million (London GUARDIAN, 9/6).

NOT EVERYONE IS HAPPY: In Auckland, Paul Harper reported that former Kiwi Paralympic athletes have "slammed the TV coverage" of the Paralympics as the "worst it has ever been." Sky TV has the rights to the event and has screened one-hour highlight packages. By contrast, Sky had five extra channels dedicated to providing live coverage of the Olympics. Beijing Silver Medalist Kate Horan labeled the coverage of the Paralympics as "ridiculous" (NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 9/6). In London, Alexandra Topping wrote that Horse and Hound magazine, known as "the bible of Equestrianism," appeared to show a "lack of horse-sense" by failing to put a picture of the Gold Medal-winning British para-equestrian team on its cover. Britain's most-successful para-equestrian, Lee Pearson -- who won a Gold, Silver and Bronze in the Paralympics, wrote on his Facebook page, "I'm really quite hurt and disappointed for me and the other para-equestrian riders that we have heard that our national horse magazine 'Horse & Hound' will NOT be featuring the Gold Medal winning riders on their front cover. Since 1996 this team has won EVERY team Gold & only two riders have ever featured on the front cover" (GUARDIAN, 9/5).
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