IOC awards Australian TV rights through 2020 to Seven network

LAUSANNE, Switzerland – Seven Network has re-acquired the Australian broadcast rights to the next three Olympics, the latest long-term television deal struck by the IOC.

The IOC said Seven secured the rights on all media platforms to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Financial terms were not announced. Australian media have said the deal could be worth the equivalent of $186 million.

The International Olympic Committee said the agreement includes an “unprecedented commitment” by Seven to support the IOC’s goals across its television network, newspapers, magazines and online media. That includes promoting Olympic sports, health, education and youth sport.

Seven, which first broadcast the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, last covered the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“The IOC enjoys long-term partnerships and this agreement is something of a homecoming between us and Seven,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement late Monday. “Seven has made a concrete commitment to help promote the Olympic movement and the Olympic values, not only during each edition of the games, but all year round, and this was an important consideration in our decision making.”

Seven chairman Kerry Stokes cited a “long and deep partnership” with the IOC since the Melbourne Games.

“We are looking forward to celebrating our five decades association with the Olympics in Rio and to taking this partnership to a new level over the coming decade,” he said.

The Ten and Nine networks also had expressed interest in doing a deal with the IOC but reportedly pulled out because of concerns about high costs and an unfavourable time zone in Rio.

Seven had lost the rights to the Nine Network after two decades as the home of the Olympics in Australia. Nine and pay TV operator Foxtel paid a reported $100 million for the rights to the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and the 2012 London Olympics. Ten broadcast this year’s Winter Games in Sochi.

Seven West Media chief executive Tim Worner said the network’s biggest ever Olympic broadcasting agreement “confirms our belief in the future of free-to-air television in Australia.”

“The Olympic Games are much more than just a sporting event, this is still the greatest show on earth,” he said.

Bach, who was elected IOC president in September, is pushing for long-term deals to bolster the Olympic body’s financial stability.

In May, NBC signed a record $7.75 billion deal to extend its U.S. broadcast rights deal through 2032. In June, a consortium bought the Japanese broadcast rights through 2024 in a four-games deal worth $1 billion.