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Discovery makes Olympic investment with major IOC deal

US media and entertainment company Discovery Communications and its pan-European sports broadcaster Eurosport have acquired television and multi-platform rights in a host of European markets for four editions of the Olympic Games, from 2018 to 2024, in a deal valued at €1.3bn ($1.46bn).

Discovery has acquired the exclusive rights across all platforms, including free-to-air television, subscription/pay-television, internet and mobile phone in all languages across 50 countries and territories on the European continent. 

Territories included in the deal are: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, UK and Vatican City State.

Russia is excluded from the agreement, while the deal applies to the 2022 and 2024 Games only in France and the UK.

UK public-service broadcaster the BBC agreed a media rights deal with the International Olympic Committee in July 2012 to cover the 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020 Olympic Games. French public-service broadcaster France Télévisions signed a four-Games deal with the IOC in July 2011, for 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020.

Consistent with IOC and local market requirements, Discovery has committed to broadcasting a minimum of 200 hours of the summer Olympic Games and 100 hours of the winter Games on free-to-air television during the Games period. Discovery said that it would sublicence a portion of the rights in “many markets” across Europe.

Under the agreement, the partners have also agreed to cooperate closely on the rollout of the IOC’s Olympic Channel project, utilising Eurosport.com and OTT service, Eurosport Player.

Discovery Communications president and chief executive David Zaslav said: “Today is a historic day as we proudly add the Olympic rings to Discovery Communications’ portfolio of offerings. 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.”

Bach added: “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. Discovery and Eurosport have demonstrated a major commitment to the Olympic Games, to Olympic sports and to the future of the Olympic Movement. The revenue generated from this long-term partnership will be redistributed by the IOC across the Olympic Movement to support the development of sport around the world.

“Discovery and Eurosport have also made an exciting commitment to partner with the IOC to develop the new Olympic Channel across Europe. Above all, this agreement ensures that sports fans in Europe will be able to enjoy excellent coverage of the Olympic Games and Olympic sports, both during and outside Games time, on their platform of choice.”

The agreement covers the winter Games in PyeongChang in 2018, the summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020 and the winter and summer Games, respectively, in 2022 and 2024.