Warner Bros. Discovery Extends European Olympic Games Media Rights Through 2032

The International Olympic Committee Jan. 16 announced it has awarded Warner Bros. Discovery and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) exclusive joint European media rights across 49 territories for the XXV Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026, the Games of the XXXIV Olympiad Los Angeles 2028, the XXVI Olympic Winter Games in 2030 and the Games of the XXXV Olympiad Brisbane 2032, as well as for the Youth Olympic Games in the period. Financial terms of the extension were not disclosed.

Comcast-owned NBCUniversal holds the exclusive U.S. media rights to the  Olympic Games through 2032 as part of $7.75 billion agreement signed in 2014.

For Warner Bros. Discovery, the announcement extends its position as “Home of the Olympics in Europe” and follows record viewership growth across the past three Olympic Games, with the Olympic Games Paris 2024 ahead. Under the new agreement, WBD will distribute the Games across its  streaming and digital platforms, including Discovery+ and owned-and-operated Eurosport pay-TV channels.

“The EBU and its members provide unparalleled broadcast expertise and reach across Europe, and Warner Bros. Discovery, through the recent combination of Warner Media and Discovery, represents one of the world’s largest media and entertainment companies across all programming genres and platforms,” IOC president Thomas Bach said in a statement.

WBC’s deal underscores the ongoing viewer appeal of the Olympic Games across Europe. In 2015, the IOC partnered with Warner Bros. Discovery across Europe for the 2018-2024 Olympic Games.

“Ahead of what promises to be a magnificent Olympic Games Paris 2024, we are delighted that Warner Bros. Discovery will remain the only place where European fans can get every moment of the following four Olympics,” said Andrew Georgiou, president and managing director for Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Europe.

For the past three editions of the Games, Warner Bros. Discovery oversaw broadcast partnerships with more than 45 free-to-air partners and EBU members. Together with its own platforms, this drove record audiences, as 372 million people across Europe engaged with the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, 175 million of whom did so on Warner Bros. Discovery’s platforms such as Discovery+, while the number of Europeans who visited its platforms for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 — 156 million — was over 19 times more than the previous Winter Games edition.

Warner Bros. Discovery and the EBU have a long history of collaborating on coverage of major sporting events, most recently with the International Biathlon Union World Cup and World Championship events, in addition to a host of summer sports events, including the World Athletics Championships and cycling’s Tour de France and La Vuelta Grand Tour bicycle races.

Japan, IOC Officially Postpone Tokyo Summer Olympics to 2021

As expected, the International Olympic Committee and Japan March 25 formally announced postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics until 2021. The Games were originally slated from July 24 to Aug. 9.

“We have agreed that the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will be held by the summer of 2021 at the latest,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a brief statement.

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The delay comes after mounting pressure from countries and athletes regarding ongoing concerns about the safety of traveling and competing during the coronavirus pandemic that has infected nearly 390,000 people and killed 17,000.

Australia and Canada had already announced they would not send delegations, a move the United States Olympic Committee was set to follow.

Comcast, which is the exclusive TV and streaming video distributor of the Games in the United States, has about $1.2 billion in advertising commitments for the two-week event. CEO Brian Roberts has said the company has insurance against cancellation of the Games.

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IOC Official: 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics Likely Postponed

The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, arguably the biggest media sporting event of the year, will be postponed likely to next year, according to an IOC official.

IOC member Dick Pound told USA Today March 23 the Games, which are slated for July 24 to Aug. 9, probably won’t happen until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe.

Japan has more than 1,800 COVID-19 cases, including cases originating aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

The modern Summer Olympics have been held consecutively every four year since 1896 — except during World War I and World War II (1916, 1940, 1944).

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Although the IOC has made no official announcement, there have been growing calls from countries’ Olympic committees to postpone the event due to athletes’ concerns. Canada and Australia both announced they would not be sending athletes due to the pandemic that has claimed more than 15,000 lives and infected more than 350,000, according to the World Health Organization. Johns Hopkins University said more than 100,000 of the infected have survived.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who until last weekend stressed the Games would go on as scheduled, began to change his mind as the pandemic expands.

“This decision by IOC is in line with what I have said, about holding the games in their entirety,” Abe told lawmakers over the weekend. “In case this becomes difficult, in order to make the athletes our top priority, we may have no choice but to decide to postpone the Games.”

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The delay is a huge blow to Japan and the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee, which have poured tens of billions of dollars into staging the event, not including billions more spent on marketing and advertising.

Organizers haven’t commented on the status of the traditional Olympic torch relay, which is slated to start March 26 (without spectators) in the northern part of the country.

Comcast, which has spent billions securing exclusive U.S. broadcast and streaming rights for NBCUniversal to the Games, stands to lose about $1.2 billion in advertising. CEO Brian Roberts has said the company has insurance should the Games be canceled.

NBC Sports plans to stream the games across several of its networks.