Discovery just bought all of the European television rights for the Olympics

Discovery’s Olympic feat.
Discovery’s Olympic feat.
Image: AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda
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Discovery Communications and its Eurosport subsidiary just landed the sole broadcasting rights in Europe for the Olympic Games through 2024. Once the deal €1.3 billion ($1.44 billion) kicks in, it means that the BBC or any other European broadcaster that wants to air a portion of the games will have to go through Discovery first.

The American-based company’s agreement with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) includes full television and online and mobile streaming rights for the games in more than 50 European countries and territories. The contract, which sets in for the most part with the 2018 winter games, does not apply to Russia and won’t take hold in France or the UK until 2022.

Traditionally, the IOC has sold broadcasting rights directly to local markets or to European media companies that would subcontract the rights to local stations. Discovery says it “expects to sublicense the majority of the total rights costs in certain markets,” but it’s unclear how generous the company will be with sub-licenses in its most important markets. Discovery acquired Eurosport in 2014, and as Sports Business Daily points out, the company is looking to bolster its European presence in television and online. (Discovery CEO David Zaslav tells the Guardian that the company will negotiate with the BBC and other broadcasters in markets including the UK, France, and Germany.)

Discovery says that its agreement with the IOC will bring the Olympics to more than 700 million people across the continent. In keeping with IOC rules, the company will broadcast at least 200 hours of the summer games and 100 hours of the winter games on free-to-air television across Europe.