Olympics on free-to-air TV in Europe 2026-2032

The International Olympic Committee announced Monday that the four Olympic Games between 2026 and 2032 will be broadcast on free-to-air television in Europe.

The IOC said that all media rights in Europe for the summer and winter Games for the period had been awarded to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), an alliance of public service broadcasters, along with current rights holders Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD).

The move marks a change of approach from the current six-year deal that runs through to the Paris 2024 Olympics.

In 2015, Discovery -- now part of WBD -- bought the European rights for 1.3 billion euros ($1.37 billion). They then sub-licensed rights to other broadcasters.

"This new agreement guarantees free-to-air reach for the Games through the EBU's network of public service broadcasters," the IOC said in a statement.

The deal covers the Los Angeles 2028 and Brisbane 2032 summer Games, plus the winter Olympics in Milan Cortina 2026 and those in 2030, which have yet to be awarded to a host city.

The EBU and WBD presented a joint bid to acquire all media rights across 48 countries in Europe, as well as Israel.

The IOC did not put a figure on the deal.

But its president Thomas Bach said it would give European sports fans wider access to the Olympics than ever before.

"As the IOC redistributes 90 percent of the revenues it generates, this long-term agreement also provides critical financial stability to the wider sporting movement and ultimately supports the athletes themselves," he said.

- Sport 'for everyone': EBU -

The EBU -- which includes Britain's BBC, France Televisions, Germany's ARD and ZDF, Italy's Rai and Spain's RTVE -- will hold free-to-air rights on both television and digital platforms.

EBU members will broadcast at least more than 200 hours of coverage of the summer Olympics and at least 100 hours of the winter Games on television, plus radio coverage, live streaming and reporting across online and social media platforms, the alliance said.

Most EBU broadcasters managed to show Olympics coverage over the past three Games -- Pyeongchang 2018, Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 -- after sub-licensing rights from Discovery.

"Sport should be for everyone," EBU director general Noel Curran said in a statement.

WBD will remain the only channel showing every moment of the Games in 43 European countries via its streaming and digital platforms, and will hold full pay-TV rights, including for its Eurosport channels.

The IOC said 372 million people in Europe watched the Tokyo 2020 Olympics via Discovery and its sub-licensees.

Some 156 million visited the platforms during the Beijing 2022 Winter Games -- nearly 20 times the number that had done so during Pyeongchang 2018.

The new deal also covers the Youth Olympic Games.

Russia and Belarus were excluded from the media rights tender process after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine breached the Olympic Truce period surrounding the Beijing 2022 Winter Games.