Warner Bros Discovery and the European Broadcasting Union have won the auction for Olympic Games broadcasting rights between 2026 and 2032.
Following a competitive tender put out by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the pair’s joint bid was successful and will take the rights in 49 territories.
This covers the Olympic Winter Games in Milano Cortino in 2026, the Olympic Games in L.A. in 2028, the Winter Olympics of 2030 and the Brisbane Olympics in 2032, along with the Youth Olympic Games during the six-year period.
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WBD, in its previous guise as Discovery, first won the rights to the rights to the Games in 2015 in a €1.3BN ($1.4BN) deal struck through subsidiary Eurosports for the 2018-2024 period. It then broadcasted or sub-licensed those rights across the continent.
The deal guarantees the Games will remain free-to-air across Europe, ensuring every EBU member gets more than 200 hours of coverage of the Olympics and 100 hours of the Winter Olympics across TV, streaming, radio, social media and websites. In the UK, where the Games legally have to be shown free-to-air, the BBC has already re-upped its agreement with WBD and will remain as the local host broadcaster until 2032 at least.
“The EBU and its Members provide unparalleled broadcast expertise and reach across Europe, and Warner Bros. Discovery, through the recent combination of Warner Media and Discovery, represents one of the world’s largest media and entertainment companies across all programming genres and platforms. It demonstrates the ongoing appeal of the Olympic Games across Europe,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.
“As the IOC redistributes 90% of the revenues it generates, this long-term agreement also provides critical financial stability to the wider sporting movement and ultimately supports the athletes themselves.”
The agreement is a huge boon for Europe’s public broadcasting and free TV channels, which are under increasing threat from subscription streaming services over sports rights. While many countries’ sports media laws dictate the Games must have a free-to-air broadcast, this hasn’t stopped many speculating those systems could be ended as more companies circle the lucrative global event. The IOC and the EBU first struck an agreement together in 1956, meaning this latest deal extends that long relationship.
Delphine Ernotte Cunci, President of the EBU and CEO of France Télévisions, said: “We’re proud to have secured the Olympic Games for audiences to enjoy free to air until 2032. This deal is a game-changer for public service media and demonstrates the abiding strength and solidarity of our union.
“Through its members, the EBU has the potential to reach over 1 billion viewers across Europe via linear and non-linear platforms. And that’s why I’m so pleased to welcome this partnership with the IOC and Warner Bros. Discovery, which will ensure the Games will be available to the widest possible audience across Europe.”
The next Olympic Games will be held in Paris in 2024. WBD’s previous agreement led to agreements with 45 free-to-air partners and EBU members. WBD claims 372 million people across Europe engaged with the Tokyo Games in 2020, a record, with 175 million of those coming through the Discovery+ streaming platform. Last year the Beijing Winter Olympics saw 156 million watch through WBD platforms, 19 times the previous winter event.
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