Kate Bulkley, Media Analyst.

Eurosport boss: BBC Olympics deal made reputational sense

By Kate Bulkley

Broadcast News

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For Broadcast October 12, 2016

Eurosport chief executive Peter Hutton has revealed that failing to strike an Olympics deal with the BBC would have been a PR blunder for the new rights holder.

Hutton told the Broadcasting Press Guild this morning that he wanted a “complimentary” relationship with the BBC, prompting negotiations for it to be the principle free-to-air broadcaster of the Olympics in the UK.

“I don’t think anyone at Discovery wanted to be the one who took the Olympics off the BBC,” Hutton said.

The deal for 2022 and 2024 also helped Eurosport negotiate access to some Olympics rights for the 2018 and 2020 games, which are controlled by the BBC.

The International Olympic Committee rules require that a certain number of hours, and certain sports, must be on free to air TV.

Eurosport parent Discovery owns free-to-air channel Quest, but the value of partnering with the BBC was deemed greater than utilising its own channel.

“To have the BBC covering the Olympics is a huge tool for the whole event, so you don’t want to lose that,” said Hutton.

He said that hiring Ralph Rivera, formerly of the BBC, to head up Eurosport’s digital business, will help Eurosport create digital communities that are destinations for viewers and fans, which will help Eurosport stand out.

Separately, Hutton outlined an ambition for Eurosport to become the exclusive home for cycling in the UK. It shows more 40 races a year at present and shares coverage of the Tour de France with ITV.

Hutton is also interested in increasing Eurosport’s Wimbledon coverage. “Eighteen months ago there was no Wimbledon coverage on Eurosport. Last year, we had it on in 12 markets and highlights and the finals in the UK, taking Wimbledon to pay TV audiences for the first time in the UK.

“Next year we are looking at 25 markets and I hope we can talk to Wimbledon and the BBC and deepen the relationship [in the UK] as well,” he said.

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