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Discovery executives outlined their plans in Europe for the Tokyo Olympics, the company’s first Summer Games, saying on Wednesday that they are targeting a record audience across the continent.
Andrew Georgiou, Discovery president of sports, told Discovery U.K. Olympics host Reshmin Chowdhury during a virtual event that getting to the Tokyo Games despite the coronavirus pandemic has been an “extra long journey, and what a challenging one.”
With the opening ceremony just a bit more than a week away, he set out Discovery’s goals this way: “As an ambition, we definitely want that these Summer Games are viewed by more people across Europe than any Summer Games in history. And that is a bold ambition, and I think we are going to achieve that.”
One reason for his confidence is that “we have got a really big breadth of coverage,” he said. “Discovery’s coverage of the Games, in addition to all the local national broadcasters, means Discovery is the only place, discovery+ and Eurosport are the only places right across Europe, where you can watch every unmissable moment, and that is going to make us a real destination.”
Added Georgiou: “People can see it when they want, they can watch it where they want, on any device they want, and that is the Discovery selling point.”
In 2015, Discovery struck a rights deal for the 2018-2024 Olympics across Europe in the first-ever pan-European deal, worth $1.45 billion. In the U.K. and France, the deal covered only the 2022 and 2024 Games, as broadcast rights in these markets to the 2018 and 2020 Olympics had been awarded to the BBC and France Televisions, respectively. Discovery then sub-licensed Olympics free-to-air rights to national broadcasters in key countries, including the BBC, for the contract period, while retaining other rights.
Scott Young, head of sports production and content at Discovery, said the coronavirus pandemic continues to mean “huge complexity” every day, but “our main asset is to make sure that we are the best storytellers” while the company’s teams “remain distant from the athletes so they remain safe, to ensure that when we all leave that Japan remains in a safe state.”
Among the key technology offerings that Discovery is banking on is its Cube virtual studio featuring interactive technology. For Tokyo, it will include “enhanced augmented graphics analysis capabilities,” among other things. Said Young: “New refinements for Tokyo have taken this immersive video environment to the next level.”
After being delayed by a year due to the pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics are set to take place July 23- Aug. 8.
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