The Olympic flame burned brightly this summer, especially on millions of TV sets around the globe.

The Athens Games in August were watched by four billion people, according to figures released by the head of the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge.

The biggest increase in viewer numbers came from Asia, the region no doubt enthused by the prospect of the Games coming to Beijing in 2008.

An average 85 million Chinese viewers watched the sporting action, while in Japan TV broadcasters doubled their coverage from the Sydney games of four years ago. Japanese viewers watched an average of 29 hours each.

Thanks to the favourable time zone European viewing figures were up by 50% from 2000. They show Europeans clocked up 350 million viewers hours through 54 countries and in 19 languages.

And the Athens games proved popular with partisan US audiences where 203 million viewers watched at least some of the action, the most for any Olympics event held on foreign soil.

Rogge, who revealed the figures at a TV industry conference in Monaco, said: "Athens has set a new benchmark with the highest audience, images of spectacular quality, expanded coverage of sport, new technologies and, I am delighted to say, a high level of satisfaction amongst our rights-holding broadcast partners."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff