Eurosport coup leaves BBC's UK Olympics rights in question

DetailsMichelle Clancy | 30 June 2015

The European television rights for the Olympic Games have been awarded to Eurosport and its parent company, Discovery. The deal will be effective for most of Europe from 2018, and in France and the UK from 2022.

Under the terms of the €1.3 billion deal (£922 million), Discovery and Eurosport will develop a dedicated Olympic TV channel across Europe.

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

But it also means that the BBC will no longer have the direct rights to the games in the UK from 2022 on, although Discovery could lease back the rights to the broadcaster.

BBC deal or no, Discovery said it would broadcast a minimum of 200 hours of the Olympic Summer Games and 100 hours of the Olympic Winter Games on free-to-air television.

"We cannot at this point say the BBC has lost the Olympics," said David Sillito, BBC Media correspondent, in an analysis. "It may well be given the chance to lease some broadcast rights from Eurosport. The British Government after all demands that 200 hours of Olympic coverage is provided free-to-air. However, 200 hours is not a lot when it comes to the Olympics."

To wit: the BBC broadcast 2,500 hours in 2012, which is less than half of the 5,600 hours that is actually offered by the Olympics. However, the BBC said 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".

It added: "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. 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."