Channel 4′s successful bid against the BBC to win the UK broadcast rights to the London 2012 Paralympics defied predictions and surprised leading observers. The latest in a series of bold and innovative moves by the London 2012 Organising Committee in their quest to create and deliver a Games for a new era and a new generation, it’s a decision that will be good for the Paralympics, for consumers, and for London 2012 sponsors.
Justified or not, there was always a concern that the BBC would prioritise resources to the Olympics over the Paralympics. Channel 4′s bid removes the issue with a raft of unprecedented commitments: re-branding itself as The Paralympics Channel during the Games; 150 hours of Games-time coverage; two ten-part peak time documentaries in 2011 and 2012; dedicated coverage of the Paralympic Torch Relay; and the biggest marketing campaign in the broadcaster’s history - a particularly crucial feature given the key Paralympic legacy objective of changing attitudes to disability.
But not only is changing to Channel 4 all good for the Paralympics: it’s good for consumers too.
Being free-to-air, access for all to coverage of the Games is assured – a vital consideration. Channel 4 also has a strong and proud track record of innovative coverage (Italian football, horse racing, cricket) that consumers will no doubt now see applied to the Paralympics And isn’t it good for consumers – indeed for society as a whole – that after a decade of Big Brother, Channel 4 is returning to its traditional diversity/minority remit?
I’d also argue that for consumers, having two London 2012 broadcasters is better than one, in that the inherent competition it will engender between the two stations (already visible in their somewhat barbed PR around the announcement of Channel 4′s win) will drive up coverage quality.
And finally, it’s undeniable that Channel 4 winning the rights to cover the Paralympics is brilliant news for the London 2012 Games’ sponsors. Leveraging an Olympic and Paralympic sponsorship is one of toughest challenges in the sponsorship playbook, owing to the nature of the rights: leveraging it in the UK, with – up to now – the non-commercial BBC as the only Olympic broadcaster has made it even tougher. The entry of a commercial station offers London 2012′s sponsors a new, and welcome, marketing option.
By Tim Crow on January 12th, 2010