Discovery Sees Olympic Success in Europe

    • Discovery Communications purchased the European rights to the 2018-24 Olympic Games for $1.5 billion.
    • More than 275 million viewers watched the Games on Discovery in the first week.

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Two years after acquiring the pan-European network Eurosport in 2014, Discovery Communications purchased European rights to the 2018-24 Olympics for $1.5 billion.

The deal amounted to just a fraction of the $12 billion NBCUniversal paid for U.S. rights to 10 Olympic Games through 2032, and it’s paying off well so far.

  • More than 275 million viewers watched the Tokyo Games across all Discovery platforms in the first week.
  • Of that, more than 100 million have watched Discovery’s TV and digital coverage.
  • Another 175 million watched through Discovery’s sub-licensing deals.

Nearly 750 million minutes of Olympic content were streamed on the Discovery+ and Eurosport subscription services, almost 18 times more than the first week of the PyeongChang Winter Games in 2018.

Despite the record numbers, many viewers across Europe have been confronted with the downsides of Discovery’s streaming-focused contract — most notably its limitations on free-to-air coverage.

In the U.S., NBCUniversal’s viewership was down 42% from Rio 2016 halfway through the Tokyo Games. The media giant has even renegotiated with advertisers, some of whom spent $1.25 million for a 30-second ad.