LONDON - Britain's Channel 4 is expanding its coverage of the Paralympic Games here amid strong early ratings.
The state-owned network said it had its biggest Saturday all-day viewing share in seven years driven by the Paralympics. That followed a peak audience of 11.2 million for Channel 4 Wednesday night with the opening ceremony of the Paralympics, which beat out the BBC and commercial broadcaster ITV with the channel's biggest audience in over 10 years.
"Paralympic Games continued to draw record audiences," Channel 4 said about its weekend coverage. "Channel 4 will extend its hours of main channel coverage from the London 2012 Paralympic Games across the entire daytime schedule," adding late afternoon coverage.
As a result, Channel 4 will broadcast daily Paralympics coverage of almost 16 hours from 7 a.m. until 11:15 p.m. with a half-hour break for the Channel 4 News at 7 p.m.
"The coverage of the Paralympics has completely captured the public's imagination," said Channel 4 chief creative officer Jay Hunt. We are clearing our schedule to bring viewers even more of this fantastic sport."
The state-owned company spent about £30 million ($47.6 million) for the Paralympics rights and production of its shows around the Games.
Citing sources, the Telegraph reported that an advertising slump amid a weak economy will mean that Channel 4 will lose some money on the Paralympics.
Martin Baker, director of commercial affairs at the network, told the paper that Channel 4 will achieve its coverage goals - whether it makes money or not. "We said we would grab people's attention and make people think differently about disability," he said.