RTBF agrees 2020-24 Olympics sublicensing deal in Belgium

French-language public broadcaster RTBF has agreed a sublicensing deal with US media group Discovery for exclusive, free-to-air rights in Belgium to the 2020-2024 Olympic Games cycle in the French-speaking regions of the country.

The inventory includes the 2020 Tokyo and 2024 Paris summer Games and the 2022 Beijing winter Games.

RTBF will broadcast the properties on its La Deux linear television channel, Auvio streaming service and its VivaCité radio station.

It will show more than 200 hours live from the Tokyo Games, including full coverage of the opening and closing ceremonies. Discovery retains pay-rights and will broadcast “every moment of the Olympics, featuring dedicated streams covering every sport, every event and every gold medal, available on all screens through to the Olympic Games Paris 2024.”

Commenting on the impact of the deal being struck with just over 10 months to go before Tokyo 2020, Michel Lecomte, RTBF’s director of sport, told Belgium’s SudInfo.be website: “This late negotiation has complicated things a little bit. We have a delay to make up in terms of the production for Tokyo.

“On the other hand, we are already guaranteed to broadcast the Paris Olympic Games where we will assemble a much larger team. We have negotiated a bigger number of broadcast hours [for Paris] and we can play on the closeness of the event.”

RTBF’s Flemish-language counterpart, VRT, holds equivalent rights in the Flanders region of Belgium to the Tokyo Games in a sublicensing deal agreed last year with Discovery that also included the 2018 winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

RTBF and VRT were both rightsholding broadcasters of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro summer Games after negotiating deals with the Lagardère Sports agency.

Discovery holds exclusive multi-platform rights in a host of European markets to four editions of the Olympic Games, from 2018 to 2024, in a deal agreed with the International Olympic Committee in 2015.

As part the deal, Discovery committed to making available on free-to-air television a minimum of 200 hours of the summer Games and 100 hours of the winter Games during the Games period in each market.

Commenting on the RTBF agreement, Laurent Prud’homme, senior vice-president, rights acquisitions, syndication and Olympic Games Media Services, said: “Our partnership with RTBF is the latest example of the extensive and innovative Olympic Games agreements Discovery has established across Europe. With more than 40 partnerships agreed and underway for forthcoming Games, Discovery is well positioned to engage more people, on more screens, than ever before in Europe for the next Summer edition and beyond.

“Discovery’s strong record in establishing partnerships with the biggest and best national broadcasters also underlines how the Olympic Games is continuing to exceed our expectations from a strategic and commercial perspective.”