22.9m people watch Olympic closing ceremony
THE climactic Olympics closing ceremony won a bigger average audience than the spectacular opening event, figures showed today.
Last night's musical celebration featuring performances by acts such as Take That and the Spice Girls drew an average 22.9 million to BBC1 - half a million more than saw Danny Boyle's mesmerising launch a fortnight earlier.
A peak audience of 26.3 million was watching the event - created by artistic director Kim Gavin - at its height on BBC1, on a dedicated Olympic channel and on HD at 9.35pm.
The event culminated with a breathtaking fireworks display and the flame in the cauldron being extinguished. It set a new audience record for Olympic closing ceremonies, easily outstripping the previous high of 11 million for Barcelona in 1992.
Last night's peak was actually slightly down on the audience for the opening ceremony which reached a combined 26.9 million across several BBC channels.
The figures crown a series of huge audience figures achieved during the games, for the ceremonies and the colossal achievements of the athletes.
The biggest blockbuster among the sporting events during the London 2012 fortnight was Usain Bolt's triumph in the 100m final a week ago with 20 million tuning in, while 17.1 million watched Mo Farah take the 10,000m gold.
Tom Daley's bronze-winning performance during the 10m platform final on Saturday night pulled in 15.9 million.
BBC1 controller Danny Cohen said: "It has been an absolute privilege to broadcast the London 2012 Olympics on BBC1.
"It's been a phenomenal Games and Team GB's amazing achievements have helped draw huge audiences to BBC1 and put the channel right at the heart of the action.
"We've had fantastic feedback about the quality of the BBC's coverage and all the teams involved deserve huge thanks and praise."
The closing ceremony also featured Ed Sheeran covering Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here, with a high wire artist above the stadium recreating the cover image for the band's 1975 album. Annie Lennox, George Michael, Madness and One Direction were also among the performers.
BBC1 had four-fifths of all TV viewers during the ceremony which began at 9pm and ended three hours and 20 minutes later.
The Beijing Olympics in 2008 drew an average of just 5.5 million, despite being screened on a Sunday afternoon.