When Channel 4’s Paralympic Games coverage begins on Tuesday, viewers will be spoiled for choice, with over 1,300 hours of events on offer, almost triple the coverage of the London 2012 home Games and the broadcaster ceding its flagship channel to the Olympic Games. for 17.5 hours a day.
The full coverage offered by what has become the world’s leading Paralympic broadcaster since securing an unprecedented deal on television rights for the London Games will allow it to provide nearly three times as many hours as it does. the BBC succeeded with its restrictive rights agreement to broadcast the Tokyo Olympics.
“Every sport available live will be streamed live,” said Pete Andrews, Sport Manager at Channel 4. “These are the biggest Paralympics we’ve ever hosted. It’s a big part of who the team is. channel and a massive programming commitment. Until the sport stops, we will continue to broadcast.
During the Olympics in late July and early August, the BBC was allowed to broadcast a maximum of two live events at a time and a total of 500 hours of coverage, compared to 24 live broadcasts and global coverage in Rio and London.
Channel 4’s shocking 2010 decision to wrest London 2012 Paralympic rights from a complacent BBC put disabled athletics on the UK broadcast map, while giving the channel unprecedented bargaining power for increase broadcast hours. In turn, this prompted the company to expand its coverage.
This year, over 70% of Channel 4’s presentation team are disabled, with Ade Adepitan and JJ Chalmers complemented by BBC stalwarts such as Clare Balding. A Paralympic special from the hit series Come dine with me was also designed to appeal to a wider audience.
The last step, the popular sports entertainment and entertainment show starring Adam Hills, Alex Brooker and Josh Widdicombe, will return with a daily slot shot in prime-time London. “We have created some very compelling programs to bring Paralympians to a larger audience,” said Andrews. “We are ambitious. Along with the coverage of the Games, we try to create programs that hook people into stories and bring more focus to the Paralympic Games. “
The broadcaster has also chosen to be more adventurous than its public counterpart, with the intention of giving viewers a better idea of life in Tokyo during the Games.
While Covid narrowed the initial scope of coverage – Channel 4 will have 80 staff in the field compared to 300 in Rio – it has found ways to broadcast from Japan without further upsetting a population unhappy with the risks posed by the Games. A fully camera-equipped Japanese taxi will serve as a mobile base for Adepitan, which will host Channel 4’s daily hour-long show Tokyo today program, bringing together the best of the action.
“We are doing as much as possible in Tokyo because we don’t want to lose the sense of the city, the sense of the occasion,” Andrews said. “It’s a cheeky way to bend the rules, so we can go where we want without breaking them. Nobody goes who doesn’t want to go. Safety comes before TV coverage. We definitely want to provide the best Paralympic coverage possible. “
Back in the UK, much of the action will be broadcast from Channel 4’s new ‘national headquarters’ in Leeds, set up after the government forced it to reduce its concentration in London.
This is a timely move as the broadcaster faces possible privatization by the government, with any new owner likely to want to cut costs by reducing decentralization even imposed by ministers. “It’s great to showcase Leeds, our national base,” says Andrews. “It’s a good way to show our commitment to be everywhere in the UK.”
Leeds will also feature live audiences, which the BBC has chosen to avoid, although Andrews hesitates when asked about their size. “We invite an audience of friends and family to enjoy the Games with us,” he said. “It will be as much as possible, but it will not be big. He has a Covid warning, according to the Covid rules at the time; it’s really difficult to give a figure.
Like the BBC’s Olympics deal, Channel 4’s rights deal for the Paralympic Games ends after Paris 2024. However, while the extent of the BBC’s future involvement in Olympic broadcasting remains uncertain, Andrews is hoping that Channel 4’s coverage over the past decade should solidify his status as a Brit. home of the Paralympic Games. “Absolutely, definitely,” he said. “This is who we all are. We’re sort of the main Paralympic broadcaster [globally]. Without a crystal ball, you never know. But I certainly hope so.