ITV or Channel 4 could be home to the Olympics from 2022 says Discovery chief

The US giant's acquisition of the UK broadcast rights could see the Games end up on a commercial channel rather than the BBC, cofirms Discovery CCO Phil Craig

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ITV or Channel 4 could show the Olympics in 2022, according to the company that has snapped up the UK rights to the world’s biggest sporting event.

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Phil Craig, chief creative officer of Discovery Networks International – which recently acquired the European rights to the four Games between 2018 and 2024 – gave the biggest hint yet that they will not necessarily end up on the BBC, its traditional home in Britain.

Under the terms of the Discovery deal, a free to air UK broadcaster must be given broadcasting rights – but it is up to Discovery to allocate it.

“You would think that the BBC would be competing for that but they may not necessarily get it,” said Craig. “It could be ITV or Channel 4.” 

He also challenged speculation that Discovery could get round its contractual stipulation to sell the rights to another broadcaster by showing the Games on its own Freeview channel Quest.

Asked if that were possible he said: “I don’t think so.”

Discovery Communications – the parent company of Eurosport and the Discovery Channel – acquired the European rights to the Gamesearlier this year.

The deal, believed to be worth £922 million ($1.45 billlion), is for all platforms, including free-to-air television, subscription/pay-TV television, internet and mobile phone in all languages across 50 countries and territories on the European continent, covering an estimated 700 million people. 

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Under the terms of the deal, the BBC has lost control of Olympics coverage in the UK from 2022 but has retained the UK rights to the event in 2018.