Paralympic closing ceremony watched by 7.7m

media captionAcrobats and dancers performed to live music from Coldplay and other artists in what was described as a festival of fire

A peak audience of 7.7 million people tuned in to watch the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games in the UK on Channel 4 on Sunday.

The spectacular finale, described as a "festival of flame", featured rock band Coldplay and a cast of around 1,200.

It was the most-watched programme on TV between 21:00 and 23:00 BST, beating Inspector George Gently on BBC One and ITV1 drama The Scapegoat.

The broadcast helped make Channel 4 the most-watched channel across the day.

But the ratings were down on the peak of 11.2 million who had tuned in for the Paralympics opening ceremony 11 days earlier.

Channel 4's coverage of the closing event, which ran from 19:00 to 23:10, was watched by an average of 5.9 million people.

The ceremony also included appearances by US pop stars Rihanna and Jay-Z as well as the parade of athletes and the passing of the Paralympic flag to the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro.

Declaring the 2012 Paralympics closed, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president, Sir Philip Craven, said: "These Games have changed us all forever."

Meanwhile, Sir Philip earlier said the IPC would scrutinise potential broadcasting partners more carefully in future after US rights holders NBC failed to show any live 2012 action.

NBC scheduled four hour-long highlights programmes on the NBC Sports channel, followed by one 90-minute round-up.

image captionUS broadcaster NBC came in for criticism of its coverage of the Paralympics

Sir Philip said of future media partners: "We'll examine their values as they will examine ours. If the values fit, we've got a chance. If they don't we'll go somewhere else."

Channel 4 aired 400 hours of Paralympic coverage in the UK, while Australia's ABC screened more than 100 hours.

In Japan viewers had a nightly one-hour highlights programme. Its capital Tokyo is bidding to host the 2020 Games.

NBC did not show any live action and its 90-minute round-up programme will not be broadcast until 16 September.

Yet the broadcaster said the total of five-and-a-half hours represented an improvement on the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, when viewers got a single 90-minute highlights package.

"The people of the USA, for example, particularly the parents and families of the athletes, they are all ready for Paralympic sport," Sir Philip added.

"Take the plunge, take the risk and then you'll succeed."

NBC said its coverage of the London 2012 Olympic Games was the "most-watched television event in US history", with 219 million people watching over the duration of the event.

But it drew criticism for delaying the broadcast of popular events until prime time hours.

Viewers also complained of problems with online streaming and edited versions of the opening and closing ceremonies.

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