Channel 4 has retained the broadcast rights to the Paralympic Games, with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) signing a letter of intent for the broadcaster to cover the next two editions of the Games.
The deal will also see the network cover the London 2017 Para Athletics World Championships. It comes just days after the final whistle from this year's event in Rio during which Channel 4 broadcast over 700 hours of Paralympics coverage to more than 28 million viewers.
The broadcaster's coverage kicked off with its much lauded 'We're the Superhumans' campaign. It also made a commitment to on and off-screen diversity throughout the tournament, assembling the largest ever team of disabled presenters on UK television and training 20 disabled production staff who worked on coverage of the Games. It also aired the world's "most accessible" ad break, and handed over £1m worth of free airtime to Mars Chocolate following a competition put to brands to develop a creative idea that put disability and diversity front-and-centre.
The letter of intent outlines the principles of a new agreement between the Paralympics' global governing body and Channel 4 with negotiations over the detail of the contract set to continue over the coming weeks.
"As shown with its outstanding coverage of Rio 2016, Channel 4 continues to set the international benchmark for how Paralympic sport should be covered by a broadcaster," said Sir Philip Craven, IPC President. "By extending our long-term partnership for a further four years covering London 2017, PyeongChang 2018 and Tokyo 2020 we can work together to build on the great work and achievements of the last four years."
Channel 4 chief executive David Abraham said that the broadcaster's Paralympics coverage speaks to Channel 4’s public service remit on "many levels."
"I’m incredibly proud that our coverage and marketing of the Games has both helped change public perceptions of people with impairments and encouraged broadcasters around the world to show Paralympic sport," he continued, adding: "I’m delighted to be extending our partnership with the IPC and the worldwide Paralympic movement and I know everyone at Channel 4 will be thrilled at the prospect of raising the bar even higher than before in PyeongChang 2018 and Tokyo 2020."
Channel 4 will also use its All 4 digital platform to broadcast increased coverage of live Paralympic sport – with even greater resource diverted to social media and online targeting of new audiences and the creation of a 24-7 zone for para-sport followers, old and new.