France Télévisions to launch digital Olympics channel in time for Tokyo 2020
France Télévisions, the public-service broadcaster, is to launch a digital channel dedicated to the Olympic Games next year.
The French network had planned to launch the online channel in 2024 following a sub-licensing agreement with US media giant Discovery, the owner of pan-European broadcaster Eurosport, for rights to the 'home' Olympic Games in Paris, but has fast-tracked the project.
Delphine Ernotte, president of France Télévisions, said the channel will be fully operational by the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, but she did not reveal which sports events would be carried or what programming would be offered between editions of the games.
France Télévisions holds rights to the 2020 Olympics in a deal struck direct with the International Olympic Committee, which also included the PyeongChang 2018 winter Olympics, and was worth around €90 million ($102 million).
In April, the broadcaster picked up the highly coveted exclusive free-to-air rights to Paris 2024 in a sub-licensing deal with Discovery, which additionally covers the Beijing 2022 winter Olympics.
France Télévisions outbid free-to-air rivals TF1 and M6 to land the rights, with Canal Plus and SFR, the pay-TV players with free-to-air channels at their disposal, also interested in the packages.
Discovery, which had to ensure that at least 200 hours of free-to-air coverage from Paris 2024 was shown in France (along with 100 hours of free-to-air winter Olympics output), was known to be seeking around €150 million for the rights a year ago.
The announcement of France Télévisions' impending Olympic digital channel comes a month after 'Sport en France', the television channel of the CNOSF, the French Olympic Committee, went live.
The channel, launched in partnership with Media 365, the Reworld Media-owned television and digital content agency, is available online and on the platforms of telecoms trio Orange, Bouygues Telecom and Free, while carriage deals with SFR and Numericable will be effective from next Tuesday.
Aside from live sport, the channel features talk shows and magazine programming.