80% of U.K. tunes in for Olympic closing ceremony

A general view of the stadium and Olympic park during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on Aug. 12, 2012.
Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

(CBS/AP) LONDON - The BBC said Monday that its live coverage of the Olympic closing ceremony was watched by 26.3 million people in the U.K., or more than 80 percent of the country's audience share.

The broadcaster said in a statement that coverage on its flagship terrestrial channel, BBC1, peaked at 26 million on Sunday night, easily beating the previous U.K. audience record for an Olympic closing ceremony, the 11 million viewers who watched the ceremony in Barcelona in 1992. The BBC's high-definition and 3D coverage Sunday added another 300,000 viewers.

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The massive television audience was bolstered by 3.9 million people who watched the opening ceremony live on the BBC's website or through its online playback service, iPlayer.

Overall the BBC reported that 55 million viewers had logged on to its sports website over the course of the games, which ran from July 27 to Aug. 12, with an average of 9.5 million browsers for each day of the games.

Included in the ceremony were British artists including the Spice Girls, who performed together for the first time since their reunion tour four years ago. Eric Idle of Monty Python sang "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," and Liam Gallagher performed 90s hit "Wonderwall." A tribute to British fashion included looks from Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Christopher Kane and Burberry, with models like Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss featuring the clothing.

All in all, 80,000 were in attendance at Olympic stadium, while organizers estimated that 300 million or more were watching around the world. The entire cost of the games, including the closing ceremony, was $15 billion, three times the original estimate.

Sunday's television figures were slightly down on the opening ceremony which kicked off the games on July 27. The Danny Boyle-directed opening extravaganza drew 26.9 million viewers at its height.

The BBC's four main domestic channels are distinct from its international rolling news service, BBC World News, or services such as BBC America, which brings popular British shows such as "Top Gear" and "Dr. Who" to U.S. audiences.

In the United States, the Olympics were broadcast by NBC.