The International Olympic Committee on Monday said it awarded TV and multiplatform rights to cover the 2018-2024 Olympic Games in Europe to Discovery Communications and its Eurosport unit.
Discovery is paying $1.44 billion for the rights. The company is a leading programmer of non-fiction programming. As sports has become a must-have commodity for viewers and distributors, Discovery has been adding to its sports portfolio, particularly in Europe. As one of the most-viewed events, the Olympics is expected drive distribution of Discovery’s TV channels and digital offerings.
With an average of 10 channels in every European market in addition to online and OTT sports offerings, Discovery and Eurosport will deliver more coverage across more screens than ever before to over 700 million people across Europe, the company said.
Discovery and Eurosport’s coverage will be augmented by strong free-to-air access and innovative partnerships with broadcasters and distributors.
“Today is a historic day as we proudly add the Olympic rings to Discovery Communications’ portfolio of offerings,” said Discovery CEO David Zaslav in a statement. “The long-term programming commitment with President [Thomas] Bach and the IOC reaffirms Eurosport’s position as the leader in sports across Europe, and will significantly enhance Eurosport's presence on all platforms. With Eurosport’s proud and long-standing tradition of broadcasting many winter and summer sports showcased during the Olympics, adding the Olympic Games, the greatest live event in the world, is a perfect editorial and strategic fit. But most of all, this new partnership is an exciting win for European sports fans as we will deliver record amounts of content across platforms to ensure the Olympic flame burns bright all year long.”
Zaslav said that former NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol played a key role in helping Discovery secure Olympic rights. Zaslav and Ebersol worked together at NBC, and Zaslav said that Ebersol introduced him to the Olympics years ago.
Discovery acquired the exclusive rights to the games across all platforms, including free-to-air television, subscription/pay-TV television, internet and mobile phone in all languages across 50 countries and territories on the European continent.
“This is a significant agreement for Discovery and the IOC, and we are excited to have Eurosport, the pan-European home of Olympic sports, as a partner,” said IOC president Thomas Bach. “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 demonstrated a major commitment to the Olympic Games, to Olympic sports and to the future of the Olympic Movement.”
Consistent with IOC and local market requirements, Discovery has committed to broadcasting a minimum of 200 hours of the Olympic Games and 100 hours of the Olympic Winter Games on free-to-air television during the Games period. Discovery will sub-license a portion of the rights in many markets across Europe.
“We took control of Eurosport a year ago and embarked on a long-term mission to reinvigorate and strengthen its networks and brand,” said JB Perrette, president of Discovery Networks International. “Today’s announcement is an incredibly exciting step forward on that journey. Eurosport’s unmatched technical prowess and ability to deliver the Olympic Games to 50 countries in 20 languages across multiple platforms is an important win for sports fans. We are thrilled and humbled to partner with one of the most recognized and powerful global brands, that not only delivers the biggest global event but also shares our company’s DNA of engaging and inspiring people in addition to entertaining them.”