By Mike Rowbottom

European Athletics_Championships_2012_31-101-12October 31 - Helsinki 2012, the inaugural European Athletics Championships in an Olympic year, attracted a total television audience of 156 million, excluding news audiences, when it was broadcast earlier this year.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) confirmed in its report to European Athletics that its flagship championships posted strong live and delayed television coverage, with more than 35 international broadcasters showing over 1,400 hours of action – 1,115 live – during the five days of competition.

"This is a great start for the Olympic-year European Athletics Championships," European Athletics President Hansjörg Wirz said.

"With fewer days of competition, shorter evening sessions and during a packed summer of televised sport, we have still managed to produce healthy television figures for our event.

"Indeed, our event has performed better than many others in a busy summer season.

"The television figures show the continued importance of our sport on the continent and underline the continued popularity of the European Athletics Championships.

"We will now look at finding the optimum time in a busy summer schedule for the Amsterdam 2016 European Athletics Championships."

EBU sports and business director Stefan Kuerten added: "These figures show how the strength of the EBU is important in bringing the top sports events, such as Helsinki 2012, to the widest European audiences.

"It also demonstrates the commitment of the EBU and its members to the sport of athletics while reflecting the importance of wide-reaching, free to air exposure of the European Athletics Championships."

More than 269,000 spectators also watched the action live at the Olympic Stadium in the Finnish capital between June 27 and July 1.

In between Helsinki 2012 and Amsterdam 2016 will be the traditional non-Olympic year European Athletics Championships in 2014 in Zurich, which takes place on August 12 until 17.

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