BBC Retains U.K. Broadcast Rights to Olympics Through at Least 2020

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The U.K. public broadcaster has struck a deal for rights across all media platforms, including Internet and mobile.

LONDON - The International Olympic Committee has awarded the exclusive U.K. broadcast rights for the 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020 Olympic Games to public broadcaster BBC, the IOC said Wednesday.

The BBC, the long-time rights holder here, has acquired the broadcast rights across all media platforms, including Internet and mobile, it said.

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.

Similar to NBCUniversal in the U.S., the BBC bid for and sealed a deal for four future Olympics.

Outgoing BBC director general Mark Thompson said: "I'm delighted that the Olympic Games will continue to be broadcast exclusively on the BBC into the 2020s. It's terrific news in the days before BBC Sport begins to cover the London 2012 Games and a tribute to the enduring partnership between the BBC and the Olympic Movement."

IOC vp Thomas Bach, who led the negotiations for the U.K. rights, explained: "We adapted our traditional broadcast rights approach in Europe for the 2014-2016 cycle and beyond and have negotiated several key European territories directly. This announcement is significant as it completes the IOC’s direct negotiations for the 2014-2016 period in Europe.”

The Winter Games 2014 are scheduled for Sochi, Russia, the 2016 Summer Olympics for Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, and the 2018 Winter Games for PyeongChang, while the 2020 Olympics have yet to be awarded to a host city.

"As the host of the London 2012 Olympic Games and the birthplace of many Olympic sports, the U.K. is a very important nation for the Olympic Movement," said IOC president Jacques Rogge. "The BBC is a world-renowned media organization with which we are proud to have worked for many decades, including for the upcoming Olympic Games. 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.”


Dominic Coles, COO of 2012 Olympics, 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."

“This news will come as a massive boost to our teams who are about to undertake our most ambitious sports broadcast ever at the biggest sporting event in our country’s history," argued Barbara Slater, director, BBC Sport. "The Olympic Games has always been significant as an event that brings the nation together as well as a catalyst for broadcasting innovation and we’re delighted that BBC Sport can now continue to deliver on these traditions through to 2020.”