TV3 ponder challenging RTÉ for rights to broadcast Olympic Games

TV3 could bid against RTÉ for Irish TV rights to the Olympic Games if, as expected, free-to-air rights are sub-licensed to an Irish broadcaster.

The International Olympic Council has sold broadcast rights for the winter and summer games from 2018 to 2024 to the Discovery-owned Eurosport but stipulated that 200 hours of coverage must be made available to broadcasters in each domestic market.

TV3 Head of Sport Kieran Holden says the channel would be interested in acquiring those rights.

“Obviously there has been a lot of talk about the Olympics moving to a pan-European broadcaster rather that the current deal the IOC have with the EBU (European Broadcasting Union).

“That could open up opportunities for us with the sub-licensing of events, something that we have not had the chance to do before because of the way the rights were sold by the EBU.

“We are interested in all sports rights if they are of interest to an Irish audience and are commercially viable.”

Any possible bid from TV3 could be boosted by an injection of cash from prospective new owners UPC, part of the vast Liberty Global group, which announced last month that it would acquire the broadcaster from present owners Doughty Hanson for €80m.

Holden continued: “The deal requires rubberstamping and approval but I’d hope that there would be extra funding, but our current owners Doughty Hanson have kept us going through recessionary times when there were cutbacks at many other media companies in Ireland.

“We are leaner and meaner and try to do things in a cost-efficient manner and our prime objective is to make sure that our audience get what they are looking for and the events that they are interested in. We have premium events; Champions League games on Tuesday nights for the next three years, the FA Cup final for three more years, delayed UFC coverage including Conor McGregor’s fights and we’ll show all 48 games from the Rugby World Cup live and exclusive.

“The Rugby World Cup is going to be huge for TV3 and we’re really looking forward to it. We hope it will go well for the Irish team and in turn for us.

“But it’s massive for us in the sense that it’s all live and exclusive and viewers will not see any of the action on other Irish channels; UTV Ireland won’t have it (ITV including UTV in Northern Ireland have the British rights). The last couple of Six Nations tournaments have been brilliant for Ireland and we hope that rolls on into the Rugby World Cup.”


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