SportFive bags European rights for 2014 and 2016 Olympics
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SportFive, owned by the French group Lagardere, has acquired the broadcasting rights for the 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games for 40 European countries. The deal excludes France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
REUTERS - The International Olympic Committee has picked sports agency SportFive to award the 2014 and 2016 Olympics broadcasting rights for Europe after ending a half-century partnership with the European Broadcasting Union.
"SportFive has acquired the rights across all media platforms, including free-to-air television, subscription television, Internet and mobile phone, across 40 countries in Europe (excluding France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom)," the IOC said in a statement on Wednesday.
The rights for Italy and Turkey have been sold separately to private broadcasters SKY Italia and Fox Turkey, while direct negotiations in France, Germany, Spain and Britain will follow.
SportFive, owned by Lagardere Sports, will now find partners within its territories and must provide access to the broadest possible audience for the Olympic Games.
The global sports rights agency, whose core business is soccer, must ensure each country has at least 200 hours of free-to-air television coverage for the Summer Olympic Games and 100 hours for the Olympic Winter Games.
"This agreement marks an exciting new era in the broadcasting of the Olympic Games," IOC president Jacques Rogge said.
"The IOC is committed to ensuring that as many people as possible have access to the best possible Olympic broadcast experience."
The IOC rejected an umbrella bid late last year from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) for being too low, ending a partnership that stretched back to 1956 and angering many of the continent's public broadcasters.
Germany's ARD even threatened to reduce coverage of smaller sports between the Olympics if it failed to get the rights.
Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi will host the 2014 Winter Olympics while the host for the 2016 Summer Games will be picked later this year. Chicago, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and Madrid are in the running.
"This agreement will ensure that Olympic fans across Europe have as much choice as possible in how they follow the Olympic Games across a variety of platforms," said IOC vice president Thomas Bach, who led the negotiations.
"The agreement will also generate significant revenues, which will be distributed throughout the Olympic Movement."
The IOC did not provide financial details of the deal.
The EBU has paid about $740 million for the 2010-2012 Games package, the last Olympics it will have the rights for.
Broadcasting rights are the IOC's biggest source of revenue with the 2010-12 Games deals expected to bring in close to $4 billion.
The biggest 2014-16 Games broadcasting contract though, that with a U.S. broadcaster worth several billion dollars, has yet to be negotiated.
A deal could even be delayed until after the host city is chosen in October to allow for more favourable negotiating conditions depending on the outcome of the vote and the economic climate at the time.
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