In a surprise move, the International Olympic Committee has struck a deal with Eurosport over the broadcasting of the next four Olympic Games. The news has apparently left German TV broadcasters ARD and ZDF reeling.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Monday that it had handed all broadcasting rights in most of Europe to Eurosport, owned by Discovery Communications, for the four Olympic Games between 2018 and 2024.
"Discovery acquired the exclusive rights, valued at 1.3 billion euros ($1.4 billion), across all platforms, including free-to-air television, subscription television, internet and mobile phone in all languages across 50 countries and territories on the European continent," read the statement from the IOC.
Specific country-based commitments have been made to the IOC, namely that a certain amount of the Games will be available on free-to-air TV and not only for paying customers.
After a competitive auction that attracted more than 10 bids, said Timo Lumme, a marketing executive at the IOC, Eurosport ran out winners. "This is the first time we have licensed these rights to a single media company to manage and broadcast all the games across all the platforms," said Lumme.
"This agreement ensures comprehensive coverage of the Olympic Games across Europe, including the guarantee to provide extensive free-to-air television coverage in all territories," IOC President Thomas Bach said in the statement. The deal includes the 2018 winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games, as well as the 2022 and 2024 Games, for which the host cities have yet to be elected.
The IOC said that with an average of 10 channels in every market, Eurosport's coverage of the Games would reach an audience of more than 700 million people.
Jean-Briac Perrette, head of Discovery Networks International, hailed the "unmatched technical prowess" of Eurosport, which his company took over last year. "Eurosport's ... ability to deliver the Olympic Games to 50 countries in 20 languages across multiple platforms is an important win for sports fans," he said.
The statement also highlighted that broadcasting rights in Russia were not included in the deal, and that the rights in France and Britain had already been attributed between 2018 and 2020, to France Television and the BBC respectively.
jh/asz (AFP, Reuters)