The BBC has lost control of the rights to the Olympics from 2022. Discovery – which owns Eurosport – has signed a €1.3 billion (£920 million) Europe-wide deal for the Games.
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said: “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. Discovery and Eurosport have also made an exciting commitment to partner with the IOC to develop the new Olympic Channel across Europe.”
The exclusive rights cover all platforms, including free-to-air television, subscription/pay-TV television and online streaming in all languages, across 50 European countries and territories.
A minimum of 200 hours of the Olympic Games and 100 hours of the Olympic Winter Games will be shown on free-to-air-television during the games. Discovery acknowledged that “a portion of the rights” will be sub-licensed in many European markets.
A BBC spokesperson said: “The Olympic Games remains a priority for the BBC and we have already secured the TV, radio and online rights to the next three Olympic Games – 2016, 2018 and 2020…More than 90% of the UK population watched the BBC’s coverage of London 2012 and it remains one of the most popular free-to-air, sporting events for UK viewers.”
“It is not unprecedented for sports rights to be sold on a pan-territory basis and the BBC has acquired other sports rights via sub-licensing deals with either agencies or broadcasters. We will be seeking further discussions with Discovery about the UK free-to-air rights to the 2022 and 2024 Olympic Games in due course.”
Discovery chief executive, David Zaslav told The Guardian: “Part of our approach will be to strive to work with some of the best Olympic broadcast players. The BBC will have the chance to sub-license some of the rights. We’ll open up those discussions in every market. We want to give them the opportunity to sub-licence. In some markets we will run free to air, pay TV and all devices and in others we’ll partner with others.”
As part of UK law under the Broadcasting Act 1996 amended by the Television Broadcasting Regulations 2000 and the Communications Act 2003, the Olympic Games are “Listed” and must be shown on free-to-air TV.