Discovery Communications and its Eurosport subsidiary have won all European TV and multiplatform rights to the Olympic Games from after Rio 2016 until the 2024 Games, following a deal with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) worth €1.3bn ($1.45bn).
The IOC and Discovery announced the agreement this afternoon, with the 10-year deal meaning that the BBC will lose rights to the Games from 2022 onwards. But Discovery insisted in a press conference that Eurosport would be keen on forging rights deals with media owners in individual countries, such as with the BBC in the UK.
In a conference call, Discovery and the IOC explained how the deal would bring the Games to more than 700m people across Europe, with Discovery and Eurosport’s coverage augmented by “strong free-to-air access and innovative partnerships with broadcasters and distributors”. It said it would be producing Olympics content not just for the duration of the Games themselves, but during “365 days of the year”.
The agreement spans free-to-air TV, subscription and pay-TV, internet and mobile, with Discovery committing to broadcasting a minimum of 200 hours of the Olympic Games and 100 hours of the Olympic Winter Games on free-to-air television; while Discovery will sub-license a portion of the rights to other broadcasters.
Thomas Bach, president of the IOC, said the deal marked the first time that “one single media company has acquired all the rights across Europe”. He added: “This agreement concerns all platforms, so Discovery is the gatekeeper for all rights.”
He stressed that the youth’s viewing habits would shape much of the content, in particular their consumption of content via smartphones.
Meanwhile, because of previous contract commitments, the UK and France are not included in the first period of the contract; and Russia is not included in the deal at all, as according to Bach, “it was not part of the offer presented by Discovery”.
David Zaslav, president and chief executive of Discovery Communications, added: “Mobile and direct-to-consumer platforms can reach more than 700m people across Europe. This agreement will bring the Olympics Games to more viewers on more screens than ever before.”
He added that the €1.3bn purchase price was to be “phased in over time” and that over the term of the contract, Discovery “expects the Olympics to be cashflow-positive”.
Bach added: “With an agreement like this we are ensuring the financial stability of the IOC and also ensuring that in the future we can hopefully distribute $2.5m a day to the athletes of the world – 90% of all our revenues.”