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JTBC lands Olympic Games rights in South, North Korea

South Korean pay-television broadcaster JTBC has acquired rights to the Olympic Games for 2026 to 2032, ending the ‘Korea Pool’’s traditional hold on the property.

The deal with the International Olympic Committee, which was announced on Tuesday, covers both South and North Korea, tying in with the proposed joint bid by the two nations for the 2032 summer Games.

The IOC said the agreement follows the conclusion of a competitive tender. JTBC has acquired the rights across all media platforms, with a commitment to provide broad coverage across the organisation’s linear, digital and social media platforms.

The agreement covers the 2028 summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles; the 2026 winter Games, hosting rights to which will be awarded on June 24; as well as the 2030 winter Games and 2032 summer Games. It also includes all Youth Olympic Games in the period.

The contract contains guarantees that at least 200 hours of Olympic Games and 100 hours of Olympic winter Games coverage will be broadcast on national coverage television channels. In addition, JTBC will support the IOC and its Olympic Channel on a year-round basis to engage with future generations and promote sport and the Olympic values on digital platforms.

SportBusiness Media exclusively reported last month that JTBC was close to a deal. The IOC rejected in April an offer from the Korea Pool, the consortium of free-to-air broadcasters that has historically acquired the rights. The Korea Pool’s rights fee offer is understood to have been below what the IOC was hoping.

Korea Pool member SBS is the current Olympics rights-holder in South Korea, in a deal covering 2018 to 2024 agreed in 2011.

Commenting on the JTBC agreement, IOC president Thomas Bach said: “Following the success of the Olympic winter Games in PyeongChang last year, we have had unprecedented interest from media organisations in Korea.

“JTBC provided an innovative broadcast plan, and demonstrated a clear passion for the Olympic values and a commitment to promoting the Olympic Games across the Korean peninsula.”

Hong Jeongdo, president and chief executive of JTBC, added: “It is our desire to greatly enhance current Olympic content and coverage and to be relevant to the all-important youth audience at all times.

“We aim to ensure the widest possible audience and extensively broaden coverage for all sports. We fully share the IOC’s desire to build direct and ongoing relationships with fans in local markets.”

In February, Seoul was selected as South Korea’s candidate city for its joint bid with North Korea for the 2032 Games. The capital defeated a rival bid from Busan, South Korea’s second largest city, by winning 34 out of 49 votes at a meeting of the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee.