Entertainment & Arts

Eurosport wins Olympic TV rights for Europe

Mo Farah Image copyright PA
Image caption Mo Farah was a double gold medal champion at the 2012 Olympics

The European television rights for the Olympic Games have been awarded to Eurosport and its parent channel in a 1.3bn euros (£922m) deal.

It means the BBC could lose coverage of the Games in the UK from 2022, although Eurosport's parent company Discovery may lease back some of the rights.

The European rights are currently split up, country by country.

The deal will be effective for most of Europe from 2018, and in France and the UK from 2022.

Discovery and Eurosport confirmed they will develop a new Olympic TV Channel across Europe.

Media watchdog Ofcom lists the Olympics as a category A event, which must have live coverage made available to free-to-air channels.

Image copyright AP
Image caption London hosted the Olympics in 2012

In a statement, Discovery said it was committed to broadcasting a minimum of 200 hours of the Olympic Games and 100 hours of the Olympic Winter Games on free-to-air television, during the games period.

Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, said: "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."

The BBC had in previous years been awarded the rights as part of a deal between the IOC and a group of public broadcasters across Europe.

If the BBC wants to broadcast the Olympics in future it will now have to negotiate with a rival broadcaster, Discovery.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Discovery's David Zaslav [L] and the and IOC president Thomas Bach signed the agreement

The BBC said the Olympic Games remain "a priority" and that it has already secured the TV, radio and online rights to the next three Games in 2016, 2018 and 2020.

It will be "seeking further discussions with Discovery about the UK free-to-air rights to the 2022 and 2024 Olympic Games in due course".

"More than 90% of the UK population watched the BBC's coverage of London 2012 and it remains one of the most popular free-to-air, sporting events for UK viewers," the BBC said.

"It is not unprecedented for sports rights to be sold on a pan-territory basis, and the BBC has acquired other sports rights via sub-licensing deals with either agencies or broadcasters," it added.

In a conference call with the BBC, Mr Bach, said: "Public broadcasters have played a significant role in spreading the Games and broadcasting the Games... (but) Eurosport has contributed a lot to this in the past.

"In Great Britain, BBC has the rights to 2020. There is ample time before 2022 and 2024 to have discussions with Discovery about their cooperation. This deal at the moment is not excluding anyone, but it is showing a new broader approach to Olympic broadcasting."

The first Olympics to be broadcast on the BBC came from London in 1948. Since then, it has broadcast the Games continuously since Rome 1960.

The 2016 Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and the 2018 Winter Olympics will be Pyeongchang, South Korea, while 2020's event will take place in Tokyo, Japan.

The host city for the 2022 Winter Olympics will be announced at the end of July.

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