Network Ten has announced it will be the Australian broadcaster for the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, in 2014.
The reported $20 million agreement with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) covers free-to-air television, subscription-TV, internet and mobile phone rights. This is the first time Ten has Olympic rights since the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul.
Traditionally the IOC has sold its rights packages in block (i.e. a winter and summer Olympics together) together. It is believed that the IOC will now try to sell the rights to the next three Olympic games (after Sochi) in a block deal.
Commenting on securing the rights to this major sporting event, new Ten Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Hamish McLennan, said:
“We are delighted that Ten will be Australia’s Olympics network in 2014.
“The agreement with the IOC delivers on our strategy to increase our investment in premium sport…We are also confident that Australian viewers and advertisers will embrace our coverage of the Sochi Games.”
IOC President Jacques Rogge said:
“Sochi 2014 will be the first Olympic Winter Games held in Russia, and sports fans around the world will be tuning in to follow the very best of Olympic winter sport next February. Australia is a sports-loving nation with passionate Olympic fans, and therefore we are very pleased to be able to announce this agreement with Ten to ensure fantastic broadcast coverage of the Olympic Winter Games.”
It is unclear whether Tens plan to on-sell its subscription TV, internet and mobile rights. The likely subscription broadcaster would be Foxtel after its success with Channel Nine for the last two Olympic games, and Ten for the Delhi Commonwealth Games. There has been no word whether Foxtel is prepared to undertake an expensive multichannel strategy for the less popular Winter Games, especially with no rights to the next Summer Olympics on the table.
In any event Ten may want to hold on to all the rights to ensure it is the only Australian broadcaster associated with the Olympics, with the hope that such association helps it rebuild trust with the audience. There is no word yet if Ten will host on-location in Sochi or as it did with the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, have its hosts based in a Melbourne studio. Lets hope they are on the ground in Russia!
The Winter Olympics is likely to provide the ideal launch pad for Ten’s 2014 programming and with only a 6 hour time difference between Sydney and Sochi there should be plenty of great Olympic content available at reasonable hours of the day. Nine’s 2010 Winter Olympic coverage metro audiences averaged about 800,000 and 1 million viewers for its Vancouver Gold program. Ten will be hoping for similar numbers for its coverage as it looks to regrow its audience and advertising market share.