By Duncan Mackay at the Windsor Barra Hotel in Rio de Janeiro

London 2012 Paralympic TVNovember 22 - A billion more people watched the London 2012 Paralympics than did Beijing 2008, new figures published here today have revealed. 

According to International Paralympic Committee (IPC) figures, produced by IFM Sports, a total cumulated television audience of 3.40 billion watched London 2012 outside of the UK, where the host broadcaster Channel 4 also enjoyed record audiences.

This represents a cumulated growth of almost one billion - or 37 per cent - as in 2008 in Beijing a cumulated international audience of 2.48 billion watched the Games outside of China.

"It is a fantastic achievement that the worldwide cumulated TV audience, outside of the host country, has grown by almost one billion in the last four years, underlining the growing appeal of Paralympic sport," said Xavier Gonzalez, chief executive of the IPC, when he addressed more than 500 delegates attending the official London 2012 debrief.

"In Great Britain, Channel 4 created a blueprint for how a commercial broadcaster can package and market the Paralympic Games to an audience with the support of commercial partners."

Xavier Gonzalez in Rio de JaneiroIPC chief executive Xavier Gonzalez believes there is still potential for television audiences to grow at Rio 2016

But Gonzalez can still see room for plenty of growth in four years time.

"The biggest growth area for Rio 2016 and the IPC to work on is in television," he said. 

"London 2012 was broadcast to more than 115 countries and territories, more than any other Games, and enjoyed record audiences.

"However, some of the biggest media territories largely ignored the Games.

"The only way we can fulfil our vision of our athletes inspiring and exciting the world is by ensuring the world's biggest media outlets cover the Games.

"Imagine the growth however if we get all countries around the world, especially those that can offer us the biggest audiences, to screen the Games from Rio.

"This figure could easily double if, for example, an American TV station showed the performances of the US athletes who finished sixth in the London medals table."

It once again, nevertheless, underlined how high London 2012 has set the bar for Rio 2016. 

"No-one can question that the London 2012 Games were the best ever, with many firsts and records broken," said Gonzalez. 

"However no-one can be in any doubt that the Games are nowhere yet near fulfilling their full potential.

"There are so many areas for growth, and between now and 2016 we need to all work together to ensure the Games continue to go from strength-to-strength.

"In London one of the biggest growth areas was in the number of tickets sold.

"After selling 2.72 million tickets - almost one million more than Beijing - the Paralympics have secured their place as the third biggest sporting event in terms of ticket sales behind the Olympics and FIFA World Cup.

"In Rio we need to consolidate this position whilst looking to grow the number of international spectators buying tickets.

"London was also the first Games where all commercial partners activated their Paralympic rights.

"In Rio we need to ensure this is repeated but try to get them activating earlier so that all parties involved feel the full benefits of working with elite Paralympic athletes and sports."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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