Discovery lands European TV Olympic rights

Discovery lands European TV Olympic rights
Discovery Communications President and CEO David Zaslav, left, and IOC President Thomas Bach sign an agreement in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Monday securingthe European broadcast rights for four Olympics. (Christophe Moratal / Associated Press)

Discovery Communications has scored the European television rights to four Olympic Games starting in 2018, the company announced Monday.

The $1.45-billion deal gives Discovery the rights to the games across every TV platform, including over-the-air, pay channels, online and on mobile devices in 50 countries and territories in Europe. The deal covers most of Europe from 2018 and includes France and the United Kingdom starting in 2022.

The company, which owns such popular U.S. cable channels as Discovery Network, TLC, Animal Planet and OWN in the U.S., took a controlling interest in Eurosport, the largest TV sports network in Europe, last year.

"This agreement ensures comprehensive coverage of the Olympic Games across Europe, including the guarantee to provide extensive free-to-air television coverage in all territories," International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said in a statement.

With the programming commitment, Discovery Communications President and Chief Executive David Zaslav said Eurosport will deliver "record amounts of content across platforms to ensure the Olympic flame burns bright all year long."

The deal is considered a blow to the BBC, which has been outbid on a number of major sporting events including Premier League soccer, the British Open Championship and much of the Formula 1 auto racing coverage it used to carry.

The BBC does have the United Kingdom TV rights to the Olympics in 2016, 2018 and 2020. It will have to negotiate with Discovery to license the rights for 2022 and beyond. The BBC, which has televised the Games since 1960, said in a statement that it will be "seeking further discussions with Discovery" regarding free TV rights for the 2022 and 2024 Olympic Games, "in due course."

In the U.S., NBC has the TV rights to the Olympics through 2032, thanks to a $7.65-billion deal it signed with the IOC last year.