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UK Olympic, Paralympic bodies pool media rights, plan OTT platform

UK Olympic and Paralympic sports bodies have created a company to collectively manage their media rights, with the intention of exploiting them on an OTT platform developed in partnership with a media organisation.

The venture, called GB Sport Media, manages the commercial and broadcast rights for 26 sports bodies, including 12 founder members that include the British Olympic Association, British Paralympic Association, Archery GB, British Swimming and British Rowing.

GB Sport Media told SportBusiness Media today (Wednesday) that it is only managing the sports bodies’ UK rights.

The company is headed by Dominic Coles, formerly a senior executive at US media group Discovery and UK public broadcaster the BBC.

It intends to create an OTT platform on which it will exploit the over 2,600 hours of UK-focused content it has already secured, supplemented by international competitions it has acquired on a non-exclusive basis. It would not disclose details on the latter.

The platform, which will only be available in the UK, will also show behind-the-scenes footage, interviews and original features.

Partnership tender

GB Sport Media plans to develop the OTT service in partnership with a media organisation and will hold a tender to this effect, although it has yet to decide on a timetable.

The aim is to build a “long-term relationship” with an organisation that “understands the strategic and commercial potential inherent in Olympic and Paralympic sports in the UK,” the company said.

But it has yet to be decided whether its rights portfolio will be exclusively exploited on the proposed platform or distributed to other broadcasters.

“We’re open to working in partnership with broadcasters and these conversations are a part of the ongoing tender process,” it told SportBusiness Media.

The outcome of the tender will also determine the sort of business model the OTT platform employs, the company said.

The service is planned to launch after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The UK sports bodies developed the GB Sport Media initiative alongside advertising network Omnicom Group, and the latter’s sports consultancy, Fuse.

GB Sport Media’s 12 founder members are: Archery GB Limited, BaseballSoftballUK Limited, British Cycling Federation, British Olympic Association, British Paralympic Association, British Rowing Limited, British Swimming Limited, Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball Association, England Hockey, British Amateur Boxing Association Limited, Sport Taekwondo UK Limited and Goalball UK.

Earlier this week, the UK government added the summer and winter Paralympic Games to the so-called ‘crown jewels’ list of sporting events reserved for free-to-air broadcast.