Talks to retain free-to-air viewing

Setback for BBC as Olympics rights sold to Discovery

BBC OlympicsThe BBC is confident it will continue to show the Olympic Games despite losing the television broadcast rights to the Olympic Games for the first time since 1960.

The International Olympic Committee today announced that Discovery, the US-based broadcaster, has signed a £920 million deal for the six tournaments between 2018 and 2024.

However,  key sporting events enjoy protection in the UK which means the Games will probably remain free to view through a licensing agreement with Discovery’s subsidiary Eurosport which has won the European rights.

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.

However, 200 hours is little more than top highlights. The BBC broadcast 2500 hours in 2012 which is less than half of the 5600 hours offered by the Olympics.

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

It 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”.

The 2016 Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro and the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The 2020 games will take place in Tokyo.

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



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