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BBC, Discovery share Olympic spoils

UK pubcaster the BBC and US-listed channel operator Discovery Communications have inked a sports rights deal that will see the pair share rights to the next four Olympic Games.

olympicsThe agreement will see the BBC sub-license UK pay TV rights to the next two Games to Discovery, and Discovery sub-license British free-TV rights to the subsequent two events to the BBC.

Timo Lumme, managing director of IOC Television and Marketing Services, said: “By sharing the rights, viewers will benefit from the BBC’s rich Olympic heritage and Discovery’s innovative approach to storytelling. Together, they will make the Olympic Games as accessible and engaging as possible.”

Discovery made an audacious move for European rights to the Olympics in a US$1.45 million deal announced last year. That gives it all TV and multiplatform rights to the Games between 2018 and 2024.

It has licensed the UK free-TV rights to the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will be held in Beijing, China, and the 2024 Summer Games, for which the host city has yet to be decided, to the BBC.

It means the Corporation will cover the next five Olympic Games. The pubcaster gets exclusive TV rights and non-exclusive radio rights under the terms of the deal, which marks the first time Discovery has sold-on the rights.

Tony HallTony Hall, director general of the BBC (pictured), said: “I’m delighted that through our new partnership with Discovery, the BBC will continue to carry the torch for great sporting coverage right through to the 2024 Games.

“While the BBC has had to take some tough financial decisions, this partnership underlines our commitment to making world class sport available to all.”

The BBC has sub-licensed the UK pay TV rights to the 2018 Winter Olympics, which will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and the 2020 Summer Games, which will be held in Tokyo, Japan, to Eurosport owner Discovery.

David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery said: “Today’s agreement is a win for UK sports fans and marks an exciting new chapter in Discovery and the BBC’s partnership on major sporting events.

“For 30 years, our two organisations have chartered new frontiers with co-production partnerships in factual and natural history programming. Now we join together once again to bring the most compelling stories of human ambition, sacrifice and achievement to people across the UK.”

The BBC and Discovery previously had a major blue chip factual coproduction agreement. This came to an end in 2014.