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Channel 4 extends Paralympics commitment with Paris 2024 deal

Free-to-air commercial broadcaster Channel 4 has secured the UK rights to Paris’ 2024 Paralympics in a new agreement with the International Paralympic Committee.

Channel 4 has extended its commitment to the Games, having first come on board as the broadcaster of the Paralympics at London 2012 to widespread acclaim, replacing fellow publicly-owned broadcaster the BBC.

The deal with the IPC comprises multi-platform broadcast rights to the summer Games in Paris. Rights to the 2022 winter Games in Beijing are not part of the agreement and are expected to be awarded later in the year, SportBusiness understands.

Channel 4’s existing agreement runs for from 2017 to 2020 and included the 2018 winter Games in PyeongChang, along with the summer Games in Tokyo, which have been rescheduled to next summer due to the Covid-19 pandemic. That deal also included London’s 2017 Paralympic World Athletics Championships.

The new agreement announced today (Friday) comes exactly four years before the Paralympics opening ceremony in Paris and on the back of this week’s one-year-to-go celebrations ahead of Tokyo. It also comes with the Paralympic Movement in the public spotlight after the global release on Wednesday of the Rising Phoenix Paralympics documentary on Netflix.

The Paris 2024 organising committee said that the new deal with Channel 4 would reinforce its commitment to “make the Paralympic Games resonate across the entire world”.

The announcement stated that “world class marketing and disabled presenting and production talent will be key to successful profiling and broadcasting of Paris 2024 and Channel 4 aspires to maintain its prized position as a world leader in inclusion and accessibility”.

It continued: “Sustainability will be at the heart of its coverage and the broadcaster aims to build on innovation within broadcasting that it has planned for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, being held next year.”

IPC president Andrew Parsons said: “We are delighted that Channel 4, a broadcaster with a global reputation for its stunning Paralympic coverage, has been awarded the broadcast rights to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

“With London 2012 and Rio 2016, Channel 4 created a blueprint for how a commercial broadcaster can raise the profile of Paralympic sport and its athletes to new levels. They have reached record audiences, in particular young people, identified and developed some fantastic new presenting talent and played a significant role in delivering seismic shifts in attitudes and perceptions towards people with an impairment in the UK.”

Alex Mahon, Channel 4’s chief executive, added: “The Paralympic Games is at the heart of what we do at Channel 4 and we are proud to have been the Paralympic broadcaster since London 2012. We truly believe in the transformative power of sport and have been using the Paralympics to inspire change in attitudes towards disability in the UK since 2012.”

The IPC has taken increased control of broadcast rights sales to the Paralympics in recent editions, beginning with the sale of rights to Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016 on behalf of the respective organising committees. Before then, the rights were sold directly by the organising committees themselves (including the London 2012 organising committee’s deal with Channel 4).

Major broadcast deals signed by the IPC in recent years have also included a pan-European deal (excluding Russia and the UK) with the European Broadcasting Union consortium.