Warner Bros. Discovery and the European Broadcasting Union have won the auction for broadcasting rights for the Olympic Games between 2026 and 2032.
Following a competitive tender from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the pair’s joint bid was successful and the rights will be acquired in 49 territories.
This includes the 2026 Milano Cortino Winter Olympics, the 2028 LA Olympics, the 2030 Winter Olympics, and the 2032 Brisbane Olympics, along with the Youth Olympics over the six-year period.
WBD, in its previous guise as Discovery, first won the rights to the rights to the Games in 2015 in a €1.3 billion ($1.4 billion) deal through subsidiary Eurosports for the period 2018-2024. It then broadcast or sublicensed those rights across the continent.
The deal guarantees that the Games will continue to be available for free across Europe, giving each EBU member more than 200 hours of Olympic coverage and 100 hours of Winter Olympic coverage across TV, streaming, radio, social media and websites. In the UK, where the Games must legally be broadcast free-to-air, the TBEN has already renewed its agreement with WBD and will remain the local host broadcaster until at least 2032.
“The EBU and its members offer unparalleled broadcasting 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. It demonstrates the continued appeal of the Olympic Games across Europe,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.
“As the IOC redistributes 90% of the revenue it generates, this long-term agreement also provides critical financial stability to the wider sports movement and ultimately supports the athletes themselves.”
The deal is a huge boon to Europe’s public service broadcasters and free-to-air TV channels, which are increasingly under threat from subscription streaming services rather than sports rights. While many countries’ sports media laws mandate that the Games must be broadcast free of charge, this hasn’t stopped many from speculating that those systems could end as more companies surround the lucrative global event. The IOC and EBU first struck an agreement together in 1956, meaning this latest deal extends that long relationship.
Delphine Ernotte Cunci, President of the EBU and CEO of France Télévisions, said: “We are proud to have secured the Olympic Games for the public to enjoy for free until 2032. the lasting strength and solidarity of our union.
“Through its members, the EBU has the potential to reach over 1 billion viewers across Europe across linear and non-linear platforms. And that’s why I’m so excited about this partnership with the IOC and Warner Bros. Discovery, which will ensure that the Games are available to the widest possible audience across Europe.”
The next Olympic Games will be held in Paris in 2024. WBD’s previous agreement led to agreements with 45 free-to-air partners and EBU members. WBD claims that 372 million people across Europe were involved in the Tokyo Games in 2020, a record, including 175 million through the streaming platform Discovery+. Last year, the Beijing Winter Olympics saw 156 million viewers across WBD platforms, 19 times the number of the previous winter event.