Discovery Communications and Eurosport have snapped up most European multiplatform broadcast and distribution rights for the four Olympic Games between 2018–2024 in a landmark deal inked in Lausanne, Switzerland, with the International Olympic Committee that ups Discovery’s game in the sports-rights field and boosts the status of Discovery-controlled Eurosport as Europe’s top sports platform.
Discovery acquired the exclusive rights, valued at EUR 1.3 billion ($1.44 billion), across all platforms – including free-to-air and pay TV, online and mobile phone in all languages across 50 countries and most territories on the European continent.
European Olympics rights are currently split up by individual territories. Discovery said the deal marks the first time the IOC has sold the bulk of these European rights to a single media company.
By their estimate it will give them a reach of more than 700 million people across Europe.
Consistent with IOC and local market regulations that guarantee extensive free-to-air television coverage in all these territories, Discovery has committed to distributing a minimum of 200 hours of the Olympic Games and 100 hours of the Olympic Winter Games on European free-to-air TV.
Therefore, Discovery will sub-license a portion of the rights in many markets across Europe.
The deal covers the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, in 2018, and the games of the XXXII Olympics in Tokyo in 2020, as well as the Olympic Games in 2022 and 2024, for which host cities have yet to be decided.
It excludes the Russian Federation and does not cover the 2018 and 2020 Olympic games for France and the U.K., which the IOS has already sold to France Televisions and the BBC, respectively.
IOC president Thomas Bach in a statement called the agreement “significant,” adding that it guarantees “comprehensive coverage of the Olympic games across Europe.”
Bach added that “revenue generated from this long-term partnership will be redistributed by the IOS across the Olympic Movement.”
Discovery/Eurosport and the IOC have also partnered with the IOC to develop and rollout the IOC’s new Olympic Channel across Europe thanks to access to IOC archives. It also provides Discovery and Eurosport use of the trademark Olympics Rings logo.
“Today is a historic day as we proudly add the Olympic Rings to Discovery Communications’ portfolio of offerings,” enthused Discovery Communications president and CEO David Zaslav.
Speaking in March at the FT Digital Media conference in London Zaslav said that after taking over Eurosport a year ago they were mulling bids for major sports rights. That may have been an understatement.
At the confab, he also boasted that “Eurosport is a bigger platform than ESPN on cable in the U.S. and it reaches more people.”
Eurosport by its count reaches 137 million homes in 54 European countries through either satellite, cable or online platforms, providing more than 5,000 hours of live sports a year with commentary in 20 languages.