t is no great secret that the 2012 Paralympic Games in London were extremely successful. By the Opening Ceremony, 2.4 million tickets had been sold to the events. The internet was abuzz with news stories, blog posts, and video clips featuring the athletes with disabilities and their stories of success. The public’s response was overwhelming – for instance, this Buzzfeed post had almost 200,000 hits, 4,000 shares on Facebook, and 6,700 likes. Clearly, the fans are interested.
Anticipating a similarly enthusiastic response from fans for the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, NBC, the media rights holder for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, has decided to air 50 hours of television coverage of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games, starting March 7th and ending March 16th. Working with the United States Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee, NBC has contracted to offer coverage of all five Paralympic events daily. As part of this agreement, NBC will also air 66 hours of coverage for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
This monumental decision comes on the heels of sharp criticism from the public and the International Paralympic Committee regarding NBC’s coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. While Channel 4 in the United Kingdom offered 150 hours of coverage and mobile apps, NBC only offered an embarrassing five and a half hours of highlight reels.
In March of 2013, we had the opportunity to interview Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee (and recipient of our Humanitarian Award). In our Q&A Sir Philip expressed his hopes for increased media coverage for future Paralympic Games.