Negotiations on live pictures from the Olympics seemed to have broken down. But now it sounds like there might be a rapprochement after all.
Expensive fun: cameraman at soccer Photo: dpa
"Home of the Olympics" – that’s how Eurosport has been calling itself since January 1 of this year. Because since that day, the sports channel is also officially the exclusive broadcaster of the 2018 (Pyeongchang), 2020 (Tokyo), 2022 (Beijing) and 2024 (Los Angeles or Paris) Winter and Summer Games.
In 2015, Eurosport owner Discovery had secured the TV rights for almost all of Europe for around 1.3 billion euros. ARD and ZDF immediately announced their intention to enter into negotiations to be allowed to show the games live on their own turf after all. "We are prepared to pay comparable prices for this," said Lutz Marmor, then chairman of ARD.
But that was probably not enough. Discovery is said to have demanded 150 million euros for the rights, and the public broadcasters are said to have offered 100 million. These figures have not been confirmed. The only thing that was clear in November 2016 was: "The protracted negotiations have … failed," wrote ZDF. Earlier, ARD Director-General Karola Wille had warned in an interview with the taz that the deal would "not be made at any price".
But now there is probably a rapprochement again. "Like the public broadcasters, Discovery has always emphasized that it is our concern to work with partners who value the Olympic Games," the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quotes Susanne Aigner-Drews, Discovery’s head of Germany.
Is the peace pipe circling?
ARD and ZDF confirm "talks with Discovery" when asked. A ZDF spokesman emphasizes that they had already announced in the fall that they would "talk with Discovery about highlights and news." Highlights and News mean: Secondary exploitation in the form of summaries in the news and sports formats.
But is it really all about highlights and news? The statement by Discovery’s CEO sounds very much as if the peace pipe is circling in the ARD-ZDF-Eurosport negotiation round.
Discovery is said to have demanded 150 million euros for the broadcasting rights
It is true that ARD and ZDF make a point of stating that there has not yet been a concluded agreement. But there is no clear denial that live broadcasting rights are still being haggled over. ARD sports coordinator Axel Balkausky emphasizes that they had already announced last year that they would try to "acquire sublicenses to the Olympic Games on acceptable terms.
Agreement should come soon
And sublicensing can mean anything: live broadcasts and/or summaries. Discovery has already sold sublicenses to public broadcasters in Switzerland, the UK and Austria.
However, for an agreement to be reached in Germany, either Discovery would have to make concessions to the public broadcasters on the price, or ARD and ZDF would have to move toward Discovery on the content and simply accept that there would be fewer sports to show in return for their "comparable prices as before".
And an agreement would have to be reached soon, because it was repeatedly said that ARD and ZDF could only plan such an event with a great deal of advance planning (450 employees were involved in Sochi in 2014). Then the negotiations fell through. Then it was 14 months until the next Games, now it’s a good 6 months until the opening of Pyeongchang 2018.