France Télévisions lands coveted FTA rights to Paris 2024 Olympics
By Jonathan Rest
France Télévisions, the public broadcaster, has won a fiercely competitive battle to land the exclusive free-to-air rights in the country to the 2024 Olympic Games on home soil in Paris.
France Télévisions outbid free-to-air rivals TF1 and M6 to land the sub-licensed rights from Discovery, the US media giant that owns Eurosport, in a deal that also covers the Beijing 2022 winter Olympics. Canal Plus and SFR, the pay-TV players with free-to-air channels at their disposal, were also interested in the packages.
The financial terms of the deal, announced today, were not disclosed, but Discovery, which had to ensure that at least 200 hours of free-to-air coverage from Paris 2024 was shown in France (along with 100 hours of free-to-air winter Olympics output), was known to be seeking around €150 million ($168.8 million) for the rights a year ago.
France was one market in which Discovery and Eurosport did not pick up the rights for the preceding 2018 and 2020 games upon completion of a €1.3-billion deal for the four editions from PyeongChang 2018 onwards, given that France Télévisions had already acquired the rights in a direct agreement with the International Olympic Committee in 2011.
Eurosport's digital offering will continue to show every sport, every event and every gold medal from Paris 2024, Discovery said today.
JB Perrette, president and chief executive, Discovery International, said: “Our Olympic Games partnership with France Télévisions is a big win for viewers as we can guarantee the access to free-to-air coverage that can inspire the nation, alongside Eurosport super-serving fans with every minute of the games and unrivalled sports expertise across all screens. The games also continue to exceed our expectations from a strategic and commercial perspective.”
Delphine Ernotte, president, France Télévisions, added: “This is an important moment for the public service broadcaster. France Télévisions will be able to offer the Olympics Games to all audiences and all the French people. I am happy that they will watch and be thrilled by the Olympics.”
Timo Lumme, managing director of IOC Television and Marketing Services, said: “This collaboration between our partners Discovery and France Télévisions brings together the strengths of an international media company and a leading national broadcaster and means Olympic fans in France will have innovative, comprehensive coverage across their media platform of choice.”
France Télévisions paid around €90 million for the 2018 and 2020 Olympics in its agreement with the IOC, but was not thought to be at the head of the queue in discussions with Discovery towards the end of 2017, with government-led budget cuts reducing its annual sports spending by up to 8 per cent.
Indeed, Ernotte revealed in September 2017 that France Télévisions would not broadcast the 2024 Olympics “at any price” as she prepared herself for an “offensive” from the country’s free-to-air commercial broadcasters.
However, by June 2018, there had been a change of tack, as she bullishly claimed the broadcaster would do “everything it can” to acquire sub-licensed rights to the games.
TF1 showed the London 2012 opening and closing ceremonies, but action from the games themselves was shown by France Télévisions (along with coverage of the basketball, handball and tennis tournaments on pay-TV’s BeIN Sports).
Canal Plus acquired non-exclusive rights to the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympics from France Télévisions in an eight-figure deal. The Vivendi-owned pay-TV broadcaster can showcase “all related rights” from Tokyo 2020 on its channels and services, while France Télévisions has held on to rights to all competitions (non-exclusively).
• The International Olympic Committee has pledged €500,000 towards the restoration of the Notre Dame Cathedral, the famous Paris landmark badly damaged in a fire last week.
The pledge was made in a letter from IOC president Thomas Bach to Paris 2024 head Tony Estanguet last Wednesday. The IOC has come in for some criticism for the donation, with many observers claiming that the organisation should be prioritising sporting projects and the debts run up by previous host cities.
However, Bach wrote: “The aim of completing the reconstruction in time for Paris 2024 will be an extra motivation for all of us. All the Olympic movement and in particular the IOC have been extremely touched by the instantaneous connection the French have made between Notre Dame Cathedral and the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.”
Donors have pledged almost €1 billion to the renovation of the historic cathedral whose roof and spire were destroyed in the fire on 15 April.Sportcal