A thank-you to our staff and audiences

Sunday 12 August 2012, 17:49

Mark Thompson Mark Thompson Director-General (2004-2012)

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The BBC London 2012 Graphic

As a once-in-a-lifetime broadcasting moment draws to a close, I want to pay tribute to every single person in the BBC who has helped to bring London 2012 to our audiences.

I am very proud of all our staff, from our on-air presenters, reporters and commentators, to all those who have worked tirelessly behind the camera and the mic. It's needed total commitment and great stamina through very long hours, but everywhere I've been over the past fortnight I've seen amazing team-work, passion and utter professionalism. The result has been the best coverage of any event by a broadcaster that I have ever had the privilege to witness.

For most people in this country, their experience of the Games has been through the BBC. Over 50 million viewers have watched our programming. The astonishing opening ceremony (which included several films made by the BBC including that unforgettable 'Good evening, Mr Bond' moment) drew a peak audience of 26.9m (27.1m including red button) and still had over 20m people watching after midnight. That all makes it one of the most watched programmes in the history of BBC Television. But that was only the start. Over the days since then, there have so many individual moments of triumph and drama - some playing to tens of millions of people, some to a few hundred thousand on one of our special Olympic channels, though none the worse for that. And all of them on the BBC.

Work began many years ago with a decision not only that we would commit to broadcast every moment of the games and carry every sport live, but that we would also attempt to reflect all aspects of the games' impact on the UK. In order to deliver this undertaking the BBC 2012 team, led by Roger Mosey, began the job of coordinating with teams across the BBC to ensure we had the resources and the programming to cover the biggest broadcasting event in our 90 year history.

In the years and months leading up to the games we told the journalistic stories behind the huge preparations, good and bad, in our news, current affairs and factual programming. Once the Olympic flame arrived in the United Kingdom on 18th May, BBC teams from across the country made sure every step of its journey was covered. As well as rolling online coverage, our local and regional news teams did a fantastic job of reporting the experience of the torchbearers and the huge crowds that turned out to greet them. This set the scene for the start of the games themselves.

As the sport got under way, an enormous effort swung into place to make sure we offered the most complete coverage of an Olympic games ever. Alongside programming on our main channels, we carried 24 HD streams from around the different venues so fans of every sport, from archery to wrestling, could follow the games live. Dave Gordon, who is working on his tenth summer Olympics for the BBC, has overseen a Herculean effort by Barbara Slater's BBC Sport teams in London and Salford, and at Eton Dorney, Weymouth and all the other locations around the UK, and I'd like to say thank you to all of them.

It's fair to say the coverage has been generally very positively received by the critics. But more importantly than that, it has set a new benchmark for audiences about how we cover big events in the future. In particular, this was the first truly digital Olympics and it gave them more choice and more control than they have ever experienced before.

Our Future Media teams designed and created ground breaking online services. So far we've had over 50 million requests for the BBC Sport's live video interactive streams, there have been 1.9m downloads of the BBC Olympics App, and perhaps most impressively the first week of the games was the most popular ever for BBC Sport Online with a total of 34.7m browsers.

Meanwhile, teams from radio and television have supported the sports coverage, with factual, drama and music programming providing a flavour of the games impact on the whole country.

None of this could have happened without a great deal of work behind the scenes to make sure everything ran smoothly and get the extra channels (both television and radio) on air without a hitch - although sometimes it's taken nerves of steel! Everyone who has worked in the BBC's Operations Group, which ensures the technology, distribution of content, and support services for all our programmes, has played a vital role.

While today sees the end of our Olympic coverage, the Paralympics will be beginning on August 29th and Radio 5 Live will be bringing audiences full coverage of the games, building on their terrific work at the Olympics, that has delivered the station's best ever audience appreciation figures. Our News and Global News teams will continue to bring the stories of the games to our national and international audiences, with the same authority, objectivity and an entirely justified touch of pride that they have shown throughout the Olympics.

So I'd like to conclude by saying thank you to all of you for your hard work, but also to our audiences for being there and sharing this unique experience with us. The London games are ending but the story of the BBC and the Olympics goes on. We've secured the rights to cover the winter and summer games to 2020. That means that we'll be in Rio in four years time and our ambition there will be the same as it's been in London. To use our creativity and experience, the latest technology and the oldest story-telling skills to once again offer our audiences the very best seats in the house. Thank you.

Mark Thompson is Director General of the BBC

UPDATE (Monday 13 August 2012): Today, the BBC released up-to-date information on TV and online statistics. Further information and links available here.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    I would agree that the broadcasting service given by the BCC has been truly oustanding - and all those involved should be congratulated. Personally I have found the additional 24HD channels viewable via Sky Incredibly useful.

    Can you confirm that you will provide the same level of coverage for the Paralympic games? I believe London 2012 should treat them in the same way as the main Olympics. Previous years they have been far less effectively covered by International broadcasters.

    What are your plans?

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Congratulations and immense gratitude to the BBC for these Olympic Games. It has been a joy to watch your excellent coverage via website from Australia. We'll be doing it all again in four years!

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Thanks for the great coverage, it says a lot that people in other countries were using VPNs just so they could see the BBC coverage!

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    It's been a wonderful Olympics and it's made us proud to be British again.
    Well done to all our team GB, I just wish I could do it.
    The only negative thing that makes me angry is "Usain Bolt" The Greatest, yes he's fast and has one 3 Golds, but it takes him just 10 SECONDS. Jessica Ennis and all the over competitors have to TRAIN FOR A NUMBER OF DICIPLINES that take years and years "THEY SHOULD BE THE GREATEST COMPETITORS" not just a 10 sceond run. Well Done Team GB and the BBC, but please, please mention our team as GREAT!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    @jollifm: The BBC aren't the Paralympic broadcaster this time, Channel 4 are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    In all my 36 years on this planet I have watched almost every televised Olympic broadcast. And I can say without any suggestion of doubt, the BBCs coverage of the 2012 Olympics has been the best coverage of any sporting event ever. One of the defining intentions of this Olympics was to be 'the best ever' and the BBC delivered their best ever. Specifically the addition of 24 channels to cover every single event was a master stroke. You could simply catch everything. The only disappointment, my viewing boxes inability to record multiple channels at the same time :-( The presenters did an exceptional job in retaining it's magic just as much as the athletes. I think that I just got a lifetimes value from my licence fee in 2 weeks!!

    Thank you BBC, I have fallen in love with you again. I will never forget these Olympics and I cannot wait for the next one. I only hope you are covering it! Roll on Rio!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    He is a good news reader, but why do we have to put up with the boring monotoned voice of Huw Edwards presenting the Olympic closing ceremony, it was bad enough having him present last years royal wedding, and this years jubilee procession. Come on bbc lets have someone with a more uplifting voice for a change. I often switch the programme off if he is presenting.

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    Comment number 8.

    Team GB have been fantastic and have lifted the nation over the past 17 days. ‘Super Saturday’ (4th August) in particular, was just brilliant and is a day I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Every time I heard God Save the Queen after a medal ceremony it made me so proud to be British. Well done to all the athletes who have helped make our ‘home Olympics’ so special.

    The BBC coverage of the London 2012 Olympic Games has been exceptional. The excellent coverage of the games on BBC One/Three/HD along with the superb 24 dedicated Olympic channels, not to mention the fantastic commentary on BBC Radio Five Live/Sports Extra/Olympic Extra and all the on-line coverage, has made for a brilliant fortnight. We really haven’t “missed a moment” of the games thanks to the BBC.

    I’ve always thought the Licence Fee was worth paying; now I think that more than ever. The BBC is a credit to Britain and sets the standard to which broadcasters around the world aspire. As someone on this forum commented earlier, it says a lot when people around the world turn to the BBC when they want quality coverage of a major event such as the Olympics.

    Congratulations BBC and thank you. Keep up the great work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Paralympics is C4? oh dear - the BBC is a credit to Britain - C4 please don't botch it up!

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    Comment number 10.

    The Herculean effort of broadcasting the Games of the XXXth Summer Olympiad paid off. Today's (Sunday, August 12th) Closing Ceremony being shown on NBCOlympics.com was unbelievable. Don't change anything on future Olympics. I wish the Paralympics, Special Olympics and Youth Olympics would get the same amount of Coverage. My belief is NBC's test Sunday the 12th of August far out did the whole Olympics. I hope they get a lot of positive remarks. Even though, I watched the ceremony on a Computer Monitor. It was fantastic. Thanks London. You deserve a Big Hand all the way around. I hope NBC's test proved positive with viewers. It sure did with me. The ceremony had moments of me clapping and some sad moments - seeing Prince Harry in a moment of emotion. That is to be expected. London your a wonder of a International City. I hope even Germany gives you a Thumbs Up.

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    Comment number 11.

    Mark, I have to concur with previous comments. BBC coverage of the 2012 Olympics was outstanding. After all the earlier issues of limited bandwidth for HD on freesat, I never expected ever to get over 24 channels of HD available from the BBC and I was taken totally by surprise after retuning my box after the games started, when my red button failed initially to work properly. Very well done to all your staff who made it possible and many thanks to everyone else at the BBC for such fantastic delivery throughout the games. I might add that on 2 Aug I was privileged to get an invite to see the Super Hi-Vision Technology Demonstration at New Broadcasting house. Apart from actually being at the opening ceremony itself it was surely the next best thing; better perhaps, as it included only the best bits and with 22.2 surround sound and a giant screen it felt just like real life from prime viewing spots too. I hope that many more people get the opportunity to see such a demonstration. Until that technology becomes common place though, which must surely be many years away, may I ask you where will the BBC go from the dizzy heights of its Olympic HD coverage? Now you've demonstrated what is possible, will we now get regional news HD channels as well as all the regular BBC channels in HD? Please keep us posted.

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    Comment number 12.

    BBC - I'd think very carefully about patting yourselves on the back re your coverage if equal coverage isn't being given to the Paralympics. It's an abomination that it isn't an integral part of the Olympics proper - able-bodied men and women have differing physical abilities and therefore compete in different events and yet all (and rightly) under the 'Olympic' banner. To extinguish the Olympic flame and hand over the flag before ALL activities have been completed is insulting - and the kind of backward thinking future generations will look upon in shame and disbelief. There should be one opening ceremony, one closing ceremony and one medals table. If the US media has no interest in the Paralympics, then the BBC could have lead the way, no matter what amount of revenue it may or may not generate. We owe it to those who triumph over adversity, many of whom have fought for our country, and we owe it to the younger generation to show them that those with disabilities will not be treated any differently - and that the considerable effort, both physical and psychological, required to make it to the Paralympics will be met with the same recognition and will, ultimately, be worth it. The football season will start shortly, and along with it so many hours of coverage from the BBC - what better example can there be of misplaced priorities. I know who I consider to be a better collective of role models and who I would rather my children looked up to. Here's to the latter part of the Olympic games that for me, at least, won't be over for another month - shame on London and the BBC for this missed opportunity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Congratulations to all at the BBC who have provided outstanding coverage of the Olympics, it was truly amazing and showed what a professional organization it is. The standard has been set in broadcasting terms and unfortunately it may never be meet again unless the Olympic committee hire the BBC to do the coverage.

    Thank you for the memories and to the athletes for the greatest show on earth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Agree with all the praise - superb camera work and pull-togethers - the 24 channels were an excellent move - the commentators top notch.

    Just one big criticism - when is the BBC going to find a camera director who can leave his touchscreen alone during a firework display?

    After the row about rolling the titles over the Jubilee fireworks you'd think a lesson could have been learned. But as thousands of pounds worth, designed to be viewed from afar and above, went up at the opening ceremony, we were treated to countless cutaways to stock footage of olympians - which could have been shown at any time before or after.

    Then during the closing ceremony the fireworks were again ruined by frequent cuts to unnecessary close-ups of The Who, and of the crowd watching the display which we were missing! The long shot from the far helicopter was shown for about three seconds - and then ironically was used later to show a huge cloud of smoke for 30 seconds just after it was all over. It left us wondering just how much that second helicopter had cost?

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Amazing Amazing BBC - consistently high quality coverage over a great diversity of events. What these games have prooved, and the viewing figures back it up, is that there is a real appetite for ALL sports - so please, please, will the BBC make their own legacy by reflecting this diversity on our screens, we viewers are so tired of overpaid footballers and Formula 1.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Firstly, to all those talking about the Paralympics, as has been said, these are being broadcast by Channel 4 and are nothing to do with the BBC.

    I too want to express my thanks to all at the BBC for the Olympics coverage. The 24 satellite channels showing every single event live in glorious HD with knowledgable BBC commentators was a remarkable achievement and I hope there will be more of the same in the future.

    (As an aside, isn't it sad that terrestrial digital TV - Freeview - is such a compromised system with grotty pictures and its limited capacity taken up with trash TV. What a missed opportunity).

    Yes, there were occasionally some poor camera choices (including in the closing ceremony), but on the whole, the quality of everything was superb and we have much to be grateful for. We do well to remember that the broadcasting of London 2012 in other countries was almost certainly far inferior to ours (limited coverage, lots of adverts, or even pay-per-view) - which confirms the unique benefits we enjoy by having the BBC. Long may it continue and prosper.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Well that's ok then - the national broadcaster to whom we pay our licence fee should have made no attempt to broadcast the Paralympics and are right to completely ignore them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Firstly thanks for the coverage, although 99percent of that should be directed to the OBS crews.

    A few limited points that need making

    BBC Trust ...
    1. Should have gone further and reduced CBBC / CBeebies to one channel to provide additional bandwidth (esp for DTT users)
    2. Should have suspended both the HD quota and the expiration iPlayer rules until the end of September, to enable full catchup of programmes broadcast, both Olympic and Non Olympic in nature. Some good stuff will have been missed.
    3. The non Olympic trailers and 60 seconds were obtrusive and not needed.

    Video Player should have been made available well in advance for testing. The help pages were promised to be revised, they weren't. Despite a high DL rate in excess of 14M it still buffered regularly for me.
    General Navigation of the website was haphazard, and yes over reliant on reversioning the official London2012 site, whose feeds regularly were overloaded.

    No criticisms except for rota of lead presenters. The expertise of some was overlooked. They played the 'uninformed viewer' role in conversation with sports specialists well.

    Brilliant location and excellent move to relocate to the Park.

    Personalities of note Mishal Husain, Clare Balding and Ian Thorpe less so Gary Lineker

    Thankfully the Corporation has been rewarded with the rights for 2014-2020 by the IOC. It's a great pity that DQF has to be implemented after this triumph.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    ... #17 Channel 4 outbid the BBC, it's not a question of the BBC not wanting or trying.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Well done BBC. You did a fantastic job at the Olympics and the presenters were stunning. Thank God we have a superb public service broadcaster unspoiled by endless commercial breaks.
    Thank you.


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