Discovery Communications secured Monday the rights to broadcast the Olympic Games in Europe from 2018 to 2024 in a deal worth 1.3 billion euros.
The US-based media conglomerate acquired the rights to the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, as well as the 2022 Winter and 2024 Summer Olympics, the hosts of which are yet to be decided.
Discovery, which owns OTT offerings such as Eurosport and Discovery Channel, also agreed to collaborate on the new Olympic TV Channel due to launch next April.
The International Olympic Committee said that the deal would allow Discovery and Eurosport to broadcast across free-to-air, pay-TV, online and mobile platforms.
“This agreement ensures comprehensive coverage of the Olympic Games across Europe, including the guarantee to provide extension coverage in all territories,” said IOC president Thomas Bach.
“Sports fans in Europe will be able to enjoy excellent coverage of the Olympic Games and Olympic sports, both during and outside games time, on their platform of choice.”
Under the new agreement, the BBC, which has broadcast the Olympics in Briton since 1960, would lose the rights to the games after the 2020 Olympics after its current deal expires, although it is understood that Discovery may be willing to sub-licence the rights in many countries.”
France Televisions, the current French Olympic broadcaster, would be in a similar situation as the BBC, as their contract with the IOC also runs out after 2020. They too would have to look to secure rights through a sub-licence.
Discovery, however, may have little choice but to sub-licence to the BBC, as current UK legislation requires the Olympics to be shown free-to-air.
“We understand and have a great respect of the Olympic programming on the BBC, French and German TV throughout Europe,” said Discovery President and CEO David Zaslav.
“We expect the BBC will have every possibility to sub-licence. They can continue. It’s true of a majority of countries in Europe.”
Zaslav enlisted the help of former NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol who engineered a number of exclusive deals for the American broadcaster in making connections with the IOC.
Although it is unlikely that Discovery’s new deal will as transformational as that of NBC in 1988, it is sure to make Discovery a bigger player in Europe for rights to major events, not just the Olympics.
It is understood that Discovery has committed to broadcast a minimum of 200 hours of the Summer Olympics and 100 hours of the Winter Olympics during across all 50 countries on the European continent to a potential audience of 700 million people.