Discovery to work with mobile operators to create localized Olympics content

NBC Olympics' prime time studio in Rio
The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio were broadcast in the U.S. by NBC. (Comcast/NBCU)

Discovery Communications is putting its Olympics rights to use in partnerships with multiple global wireless carriers.

The programmer intends to strike deals with mobile operators to allow them to become official mobile broadcasters for the upcoming Summer and Winter Games, according to Adweek.

Jean-Briac Perrette, president and CEO of Discovery Networks International, said during last week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, that Discovery wants to allow mobile operators to create more localized content in the countries they serve. As the report points out, Discovery has secured exclusive TV and multimedia rights for the Olympics in 50 countries from 2018 through 2024.

Not only will the deals provide mobile providers with on-demand content access for the Olympics, but also with data about what content their customers are accessing.

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In 2015, Discovery, which owns Eurosport, paid $1.38 billion for its current Olympics broadcast rights in Europe. Those rights could be key for Discovery, which some analysts believe is due for strong international affiliate fee growth in 2017.

“Following the recent deal with Sky, there is a high level of visibility that affiliate fees will grow in the 12-13% range this year. Importantly, we think there are scenarios in F18 where affiliate fee growth can continue at a similar rate. Growth in pricing has been a more important factor, driven by sports content in Europe,” wrote Jefferies analyst John Janedis in a recent research note.

Janedis came to this conclusion after recent meetings with senior executives at Discovery, including CEO David Zaslav.

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Expanding on sports content, Janedis said it’s important that Discovery owns sports rights on all platforms in Europe. He also noted that all of the programmer deals to carry the Olympics in Europe seem to have been done at least in line with expectations. He said it will still take a few quarters to know to what extent those deals were profitable.