IOC seeks ‘equitable solution’ over broadcast payment schedules

The International Olympic Committee will look to find an “equitable solution” with rights-holding broadcasters over payment schedules for rights to the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games, according to Timo Lumme, managing director of IOC Television and Marketing Services.

Following the move to reschedule the Games to begin on July 23, 2021 because of the global Covid-19 pandemic, the IOC has been in talks with all stakeholders and will seek solutions with broadcasters over when fees are paid.

Speaking on a conference call to journalists this afternoon, Lumme said: “Having just announced the postponement we’re getting in to all of this but we’ll be talking to all the broadcasters to make sure that we come up with an equitable solution.

“It’s [still] a little bit early on and all these arrangements are always subject to contract.

“We will of course look to find fair solutions with all the broadcasters to make sure that we’re supporting them as they continue to plan for coverage of the Games in 2021.”

Various broadcasters, including the likes of Nent, Canal Plus, beIN Sports and DAZN, have told rights-holders that they will stop making payments to various properties.

However, the IOC is in a position where it knows its property has been postponed and not cancelled, and, along with the broadcasters, has visibility over when it will now take place. Nevertheless, the broadcasters will incur advertising hits and one-off costs associated with the Games now not taking place this summer.

Media rights income accounts for the lion’s share of the IOC’s revenues – 73 per cent of 2013-2016 revenues of $5.7bn (€5.25bn) stemmed from that source – and many international federations will have budgeted for the Olympic income to hit their accounts in the middle of this year.

Asked if the IOC could make advance payments to smaller federations who will be relying on the income, Kit McConnell, the IOC’s sports director, said that talks were ongoing about any support the IOC can provide but it was “too early to speculate”.

He said: “We’re very conscious of the impact of coronavirus across the world of sport. We know that the federations have lost a number of events this season. The revenues not only from this season but potentially for the next calendar year will be impacted as well. We’ve heard that and had that discussion with the federations already.”

The IOC will continue to discuss the impact felt by the federations, he said, and “what role we can play in addressing that”.

Commenting on the issue of international federations and national Olympic committees that will be in need of financial support, Lumme said: “That’s part of an overall plan that the IOC is working on. We have both the supply side from the broadcasters and the demand side from our constituents but it’s all being worked on at the moment.”

US-based media giants NBCUniversal and Discovery are two of the IOC’s heavyweight broadcast rights-holders and have issued supportive statements with regards to the postponement.

The Tokyo Olympics will be the last covered by NBC’s $4.38bn rights agreement, which has spanned four games from Sochi 2014 onwards. NBC’s new $7.75bn Olympics rights deal, which runs from 2022 to 2032, will begin with the 2022 winter Olympics in Beijing.

Discovery, which holds the Olympics broadcast rights in Europe (excluding Russia) from 2018 to 2024 in a €1.3bn ($1.41bn) deal, said on Monday: “We are pleased that the IOC and Tokyo 2020 have acted swiftly to reschedule the Games and provide certainty for stakeholders, especially for athletes, fans, and brand partners. We look forward to an incredible summer of sport in 2021.”