CCTV set to launch linear version of Olympic Channel before year-end
By Jonathan Rest
The International Olympic Committee has an agreement in place with its rights-holder in China, the state broadcaster CCTV, to launch a linear version of the Olympic Channel later this year, while initial talks have taken place with streaming giant Netflix about carrying Olympic Channel programming, the IOC revealed today.
Distribution of Olympic Channel content has formed part of the IOC’s negotiations with broadcasters worldwide, and it presently has agreements in place across the Americas, Africa and Europe.
With the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and Beijing 2022 winter Olympic games on the horizon, the focus is now on sealing similar partnerships in Asia, and Timo Lumme, managing director of IOC television and marketing services, said today that two agreements are close to fruition.
He told the IOC session in Lausanne: "We have commitments from CCTV to launch a full linear Olympic Channel later this year. They already have certain programming blocks on CCTV5, their sports channel. We will also be launching a localised verson of the Olympic Channel, a digital platform, with CCTV later this year... Alibaba [an IOC TOP sponsor] is a partnership very much focused on helping us to launch and then promote this Chinese version of the channel."
In late 2014, CCTV agreed to pay $550 million in a deal for rights to four Olympics, from 2018 to 2024.
The Olympic Games in South Korea will be shown by commercial free-to-air broadcaster SBS until 2024, after which the rights will switch to cable operator JTBC for 2026 to 2032 in a deal announced earlier this month.
Lumme said "discussions continue to fast-track Olympic Channel [in South Korea], now we have new a future broadcast rights-holder."
Likewise, the Indian sub-continent deal for Tokyo 2020 with Sony Pictures Networks, the Indian broadcasting group, will result in exposure for the Olympic Channel.
Lumme said: "Off the back of this [Sony deal], we will build out an Olympic Channel presence in India. Sony has committed to launching programming blocks and an Olympic Channel presence on their digital portals by the beginning of next year. We will start local language and local social media presence next month, with a full Hindi version of the channel expected by the end of the year."
The Olympic Channel was launched in August 2016 with the aim of providing a new way to engage younger generations, fans and new audiences with the Olympic movement.
Since then, Olympic Games rights-holders NBC and BeIN have taken the 'all-in' approach with linear versions of the Olympic Channel in USA and the MENA region respectively, while there are programming block deals in place with Globo (Brazil), the Japan Consortium, Eurosport (Europe), SportsMax (Caribbean) and Claro Sports (Latin America).
In April, the Olympic Channel launched on the Roku platform, the advertising-supported streaming service that aggregates movies, television shows and linear news feeds from TV and digital programmers.
That added to deals making the channel available on Amazon Fire TV and connected TV devices for Android TV and Apple TV, and Lumme said a major addition to that list could occur in the coming months.
He told IOC members: "A lot you I'm sure will use Netflix or have family members that use this platform. We are in discussions with them to potentially carry Olympic Channel programming in the future."
Meanwhile, the Olympic Channel today announced it will present more than 100 hours of live streaming coverage of the 2019 Summer Universiade, the university games, which take place in Naples, Italy next month.
Coverage of the 12-day event begins on 3 July at 9am (CET) with the opening ceremony and will be available worldwide (geoblocking restrictions apply in Ukraine) at olympicchannel.com, its mobile apps and on connected TV devices.Sportcal