For the first time in sixty years, the BBC may not hold the rights to broadcast both the summer and winter Olympic Games, from 2022 onwards. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) released they had reached a deal with Eurosport to televise the games, suggesting that the BBC will have to comply to condensed highlights instead of the vast coverage we are used to seeing on the terrestrial channels.
The BBC still holds the rights for the next three games; 2016, 2018, 2020, and due to the ‘crown jewels’, in which certain sporting events cannot be shown exclusively on pay-to-view TV by law, it means viewers will still be able to watch the games on terrestrial channels.
It has also been suggested that Eurosport’s parent company Discovery may lease back some of the rights. This does mean, however, that the Games may still be shown on the BBC or indeed ITV or Channel 4, or perhaps Eurosport may offer a certain channel free-to-view broadcasting the Olympics.
It has not been a particularly good year for the terrestrial sports spectator, with ITV waving goodbye to the UEFA Champions League this season, handing over the reins to BT Sport. Does this mean that stadiums will be brim full with desperate spectators or passion for the sports will suffer? Only time will tell.
The BBC claim the Olympics is still “a priority” and that “they have secured television, radio and internet coverage of the next three games”, however BBC director of sport Barbara Slater claimed that “the BBC does need to invest if it is going to continue to compete for, I think, events that people really treasure on the BBC, like the Olympics”.
IOC President Thomas Bach stated “In Great Britain, BBC has the rights to 2020. This deal at the moment is not excluding anyone, but is showing a new broader approach to Olympic broadcasting”, suggesting that if the BBC wants to carry on broadcasting to its viewers, it must pay up too.