The BBC has secured rights to the Olympics through ceremonies in 2020, in a new deal with the International Olympic Committee.
The BBC has secured rights to the Olympics through ceremonies in 2020, in a new deal with the International Olympic Committee. The deal was complete amidst speculation that the BBC may lose its coverage due to a financial reduction in sports rights.
In a statement, Director General Mark Thompson said the deal was terrific news. “I’m delighted that the Olympic Games will continue to be broadcast exclusively on the BBC into the 2020s,” Thompson said. “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.”
The Chief Operating Officer of the 2012 Olympics, Dominic Coles, who negotiated the final deal, said in a statement the relationship between the BBC and the Olympics was important. “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,” Coles said. “We’re delighted to continue our longstanding partnership with the Olympics and the IOC, adding to BBC Sport’s outstanding rights portfolio and firmly establishing the BBC as the home of major sporting events that unite the nation and this deal demonstrates that BBC Sport remains a force in sports broadcasting.”
A report from The Guardian had suggested that the BBC may not have been able to keep the rights to the Olympics because of reductions in the sports rights budget, as the BBC is having its budget reduced by 20 percent. According to an additional Guardian report, the IOC entered exclusive negotiations with the BBC after being reassured that the commitment of the Olympics by the BBC would not change.
In a blog post on the BBC web site, Thompson said the public cared about sport coverage on the BBC networks. “We know that the public care passionately about sport on the BBC,” Thompson said. “Given the option, they overwhelmingly choose to watch sport on our services rather than on those of our rivals: the recent final of Euro 2012 in which the coverage on BBC1 gained six times more viewers than that on ITV1 is a good case in point. We always intended to protect the core of our rights portfolio and we set aside enough money to do so.”
Thompson added however that the BBC gave up its rights to horse racing and negotiated a sharing agreement with Sky with regard to Formula 1 racing.
Barbara Slater, the director of BBC Sport, added in a statement this was a great boost leading up to the 2012 Games, which kick off July 27. “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,” Slater said. “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.”
The BBC started broadcasting the Olympics in 1948 with the Games in London, and has broadcast the Games continuously since the 1960 Games in Rome, according to a BBC report.