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SBD Global/July 19, 2012/Media

BBC Wins Exclusive U.K. TV Rights To Next Four Olympic Games

The IOC has awarded the BBC the exclusive broadcast rights in the U.K. for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sotchi; the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro; the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang and the 2020 Olympic Games, which have yet to be awarded to a host city. The BBC has acquired the broadcast rights across all media platforms, including Internet and mobile. IOC President Jacques Rogge said, "We are delighted that the BBC will continue as our partner beyond London 2012, providing fantastic free coverage of the Olympic Games to the widest possible audience in the U.K across a variety of media platforms" (IOC). In London, Jacquelin Magnay reported that the BBC is understood to "have paid much more" than the £60M it paid for the London Olympic rights. However, the BBC had "to fend off rivals" who had been in serious discussions with the IOC to test the U.K. Government's protected list of sporting events, which includes all of the Olympic Games. It is understood Sky "had considered buying all of the rights and then selling off a free-to-air component to the BBC," or alternatively setting up a similar channel themselves, to specifically distribute a small amount of the 5,500 hours of Olympic coverage to circumvent the government's rules. But sources familiar with the negotiations said that "compared to other rights fees the IOC has extracted around the world, the fee is considered relatively light." The IOC has previously completed 2014-16 Olympic deals with France for £80M, Germany for £120M, Spain for £66M and Italy for £141M. It has raised £2.3B across the globe for the next Olympic period, already up on the total raised for the London Games of £2.5B (TELEGRAPH, 7/18). Also in London, Owen Gibson reported that the IOC "was understood to be concerned about recent cuts to the BBC sports rights budget," but entered exclusive negotiations with the corporation after being reassured of its commitment. Although the IOC "investigated the possibility of splitting the coverage between a free-to-air broadcaster and a pay-TV operation," as is the case in Italy, the BBC was desperate to retain its exclusivity. In total, it takes the amount raised by the IOC from its latest round of rights negotiations to more than $1B in Europe alone  (GUARDIAN, 7/18). The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER’s Georg Szalai notes financial terms and other bidders “weren't disclosed, but the BBC was expected to face more competition from traditional and new media and technology players for the rights.” BBC COO Dominic Coles, who negotiated the deal, said, “It’s vital that big national and international events like the Olympic Games remain free-to-air where they can be watched by the greatest number of people" (, 7/18).
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