BBC and Discovery Communications sign long-term Olympic Games partnership

I'm delighted that through our new partnership with Discovery, the BBC will continue to carry the torch for great sporting coverage right through to the 2024 Games.Tony Hall, Director-General, BBC
Date: 02.02.2016     Last updated: 02.02.2016 at 16.29
Category: Sport
The BBC will be the exclusive free to air Olympic broadcaster in the UK for the next five Games. Discovery has committed to strike innovative partnerships across the continent to ensure that the Olympic Games remains accessible to as wide an audience as possible.

The BBC and Discovery Communications today announce a long-term Olympic Games agreement in the UK, building on a 30-year partnership between the two global media organisations. The innovative deal means that the BBC will sub-license (from Discovery) exclusive free-to-air audio-visual and non-exclusive radio rights to the 2022 and 2024 Olympic Games. In turn, Discovery will sub-license (from the BBC) exclusive pay-TV rights in the UK to the 2018 and 2020 Olympic Games.

The Olympic Games are highly valued and hugely popular with audiences. The London 2012 Olympic Games was watched on the BBC by more than 50 million people in the UK, 7 million people in the UK accessed the BBC website every day, with 111 million requests for video throughout the Games, and over 2 million people downloaded the app. It was truly the first digital Olympic Games and the BBC raised the bar in its coverage.

Today’s announcement ensures that the BBC will continue to be the free-to-air home of the best action from the Olympic Games until 2024, bringing the moments that unite the nation on TV and radio. Additionally, the BBC's package of rights is supplemented by digital rights to the content it broadcasts on TV.

This agreement marks the first Olympic Games sub-licensing deal by Discovery and reinforces Eurosport as the home of the Olympic Games across Europe, ensuring that every event is available to fans across all screens. The news follows an agreement announced by Discovery Communications and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) last June, which includes exclusive multimedia rights for 50 countries and territories in Europe for the 2018 through the 2024 Olympic Games. The rights for the UK were included for only 2022 and 2024, as these rights had already been secured by the BBC in the UK.

Tony Hall, Director-General of the BBC, says: "The BBC prides itself on bringing the biggest sporting moments to the public. For many, the BBC has been their stadium for Olympic coverage. It is an event that unites the nation like no other. I'm delighted that through our new partnership with Discovery, the BBC will continue to carry the torch for great sporting coverage right through to the 2024 Games.

"While the BBC has had to take some tough financial decisions, this partnership underlines our commitment to making world-class sport available to all."

David Zaslav, President and CEO of Discovery Communications, says: “Discovery is a passionate and committed partner of the Olympic Movement. Today’s agreement is a win for UK sports fans and marks an exciting new chapter in Discovery and the BBC’s partnership on major sporting events. For 30 years, our two organisations have chartered new frontiers with co-production partnerships in factual and natural history programming. Now we join together once again to bring the most compelling stories of human ambition, sacrifice and achievement to people across the UK."

Timo Lumme, Managing Director of IOC Television and Marketing Services, says: “We are delighted our partners Discovery / Eurosport and the BBC are collaborating on this long term agreement which is great news for viewers in the UK. By sharing the rights, viewers will benefit from the BBC’s rich Olympic heritage and Discovery’s innovative approach to storytelling. Together, they will make the Olympic Games as accessible and engaging as possible.”

Barbara Slater, Director of BBC Sport, says: “We are very pleased that the BBC will continue to bring free-to-air Olympic Games coverage to audiences through to 2024, extending our relationship with the event which began in 1928 and reinforcing the BBC’s long-term commitment to major sporting events. The Olympic Games is one of the nation’s most treasured sporting events and this is an extensive package of rights that ensures we can offer ‘the best of the Games’, across TV, radio, online and digital, maximising the reach and impact of the BBC. This ground-breaking partnership also shows how the BBC can collaborate and work with others to continue to bring the very best in sport to licence fee payers.”

JB Perrette, President of Discovery Networks International, says: “Since the announcement of our partnership with the IOC, it has been Discovery’s goal to engage and entertain local audiences in Europe with the ultimate Olympic Games experience across all screens. To realise this ambition, we will leverage our portfolio of pay-TV, free-to-air and digital services, and collaborate with the very best partners who share this vision – the BBC partnership embodies this perfectly."

Dominic Coles, COO, Discovery Networks Northern Europe, says: “We are proud and excited to be announcing this ground-breaking sports partnership with the BBC today. Not only will the BBC be able to continue to play its historic role of uniting the UK in celebrating the sporting achievements of its Olympic heroes, but also Discovery, through Eurosport, will bring additional expert and comprehensive coverage to the 2018 and 2020 Olympic Games. Greater exposure for UK Olympians only can be good news for the development of sport and the promotion of Olympic values in this country. Watch this space.”

Olympic firsts on the BBC

  • 1928 (Amsterdam) First BBC radio broadcast.
  • 1948 (London) Games first televised in the UK – live on the BBC.
  • 2000 (Sydney) BBC Sport website launched bringing the Olympics to a whole new audience.
  • 2004 (Athens) ‘The Red Button Games’. Nine million people in the UK watched via the BBC’s enhanced service.
  • 2008 (Beijing) More video had been consumed on the web by the end of the first day in Beijing than during the whole of the Athens Games.
  • 2012 (London) The first truly digital Games – more than half the UK population accessed content online and it was the most watched event in TV history.



Discovery Communications:

Michelle Russo

Sarah Farley


Fiona McLachlan