Seb Coe: anti-social viewing times won’t hurt Nine’s Olympics ratings, ‘lack of cultural distraction’ is why Australia is good at sport

Coe: expecting good ratings for Nine

Seb Coe, the man behind London’s successful bid for the 2012 Olympics, has said that anti-social viewing times should not hurt TV ratings in Australia for broadcasters Nine and Foxtel when the Games get under way in less than three weeks.

The Olympic Gold-winning runner and the chairman of the London 2012 Games said Australian broadcasters could expect ratings to match those for the Beijing Games four years ago – because of Australia’s obsession with sport.

A key difference this year will the “social Games” effect, with audiences boosted by content sharing in social media, Coe suggested.

An Australian audience of 3.3m watched the live opening ceremony for the last Olympics in Beijing, which were shown on Seven between 10pm and 2.17am, giving the network 52% viewer share, according to OzTam data.

Significantly fewer – 3.04m – tuned in to watch the opening ceremony in Athens in 2004, which aired at a similar time in Australia to the scheduled time for London’s opening ceremony – 5am.

Nine takes on coverage duties of the Summer Olympics for the first time since 1960. Seven televised the Games from 1964-80 and from 1992 to 2008. The Australian is reporting today that the rights to the next Olympic Games could be taken on by Seven, as Nine might not be able to afford the bid.

Coe, who attended the 2000 Sydney Games as a sports reporter for Seven, declined to give predictions on Australia or Britain’s medal tally – but said the “battle for fourth place will be tough”.

In the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Britain beat Australia to fourth place in the medals table by a single medal. At the 2000 and 2004 Games, Australia came fourth, while Britain came ninth and tenth.

Australia is likely to do well in swimming – a “religion in Australia”, cycling, hockey and triathlon, Coe predicted.

On why Australia was good at sport, Coe said that favourable weather, “embedded” sport at the community level, the “competitive nature” of Australians and “a complete lack of cultural distraction” have contributed to Australia’s success. He added that his last point “was a joke”.


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