Seven acquires Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics rights after renegotiation

1000-day countdown to the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games. (Photo by Emmanuel Wong/Getty Images)

Australian free-to-air commercial broadcaster Seven will broadcast the Beijing Winter Olympics Games in 2022 after renegotiating its current deal with the International Olympic Committee following the delay of the 2020 Olympics by 12 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Seven will be the exclusive Australian broadcaster of the 2022 Winter Olympics and its coverage will follow swiftly on from the multi-platform coverage it will offer during the postponed Tokyo Olympics next year.

The Tokyo Olympics were due to be the last in a three-games deal signed by Seven. That agreement is thought to be worth just under A$200m ($141.6m/€120m) and was signed in 2014 when free-to-air rivals Nine and Ten failed to offer much competition.

Quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald, Seven’s chief executive James Warburton said: “I won’t get into the detail of what happened but it’s all part of negotiation with the delay with the IOC. They’ve been great partners, and we’ve been able to come to an agreement, which we’re both very satisfied with.”

Warburton declined to divulge whether the network had paid an additional rights fee for the 2022 Games following talks with the IOC over the impact of the Tokyo 2020 delay.

Commenting on the new agreement, IOC president Thomas Bach said: “We have a partnership that dates back to the Olympic Games in Melbourne 1956 and Australian sports fans will be able to count on Seven’s sports broadcast expertise and passion for at least another edition of the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2022.”

Lewis Martin, managing director for Seven Melbourne and Network head of sport, said: “In July next year, we’ll bring Australian audiences the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 with a level of coverage never before available for free in Australia for an Olympic Games. Multiple broadcast channels, dozens of digital streams on 7plus, all available on any device a viewer might choose – it’s going to be an exceptional experience.”

Advertising sales booked before the postponement of Tokyo 2020 are said to have helped Seven generate A$90m in revenue for the event.

Kurt Burnette, chief revenue officer at Seven West Media and director of Olympics, remarked: “With Tokyo 2020, we’re delivering not just massive audiences, but niche audiences at a scale never before achievable. We’ll do exactly that again just seven months after Tokyo 2020 with Beijing 2022, offering brands a series of opportunities to reach exactly their targets in ways never previously possible. Plus, it’ll enable brands to start their 2022 in a big way with what will be the biggest cultural and sporting event of the year across broadcast and digital. It’s an unbeatable opportunity.”

Ahead of the onset of the Covid-19 crisis, the IOC had been poised to go to market in Australia with the rights to Beijing 2022 and the Paris 2024 Olympics.

On the Australian audience levels, the IOC highlighted today (Wednesday): “During the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, 16 million broadcast viewers were reached across the screens of Seven. Both the Seven Network and Channel 7 were number one in every market and every key demographic for every day of the Games. And with 103.5 million minutes live streamed on 7plus and 4.5 million people reached across social media during PyeongChang 2018, digital platforms will deliver huge growth to complement the already massive broadcast audience.”

Seven recently terminated its rights deal with Swimming Australia after the body was unable to hold this year’s Olympic and Paralympic trials due to the Covid-19 pandemic as required under the terms of their agreement. And earlier this year it renegotiated its media rights terms with the Australian Football League due to the disruption caused by the pandemic.

(additional reporting by Martin Ross)