Beginning with the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, Korea, viewers in most of Europe will have to subscribe to the Eurosport Player in order to watch the multi-channel streams of the games. Until now, viewers had the opportunity to watch these online live streams for free on the websites of public broadcasters such as the BBC and NOS of the Netherlands.
Public broadcasters with a sublicence will only be allowed to live stream their own live broadcasts on their website and apps. However, Eurosport said it will offer more streams of more sports with the ability to personalise and define the Olympic experience.
In the words of Eurosport; “The interactive Eurosport Player will be the only place fans can watch every minute, every athlete and every sport – online, on mobile, tablet devices or connected TVs. More than 4,000 hours of coverage and 100 events will be available, including 900 hours of live action, more than ever before across the continent.”
Discovery acquired the European TV rights for the Olympic Games between 2018 and 2024 for a total of €1.3 billion in June 2015. The decision to put all live streams behind a pay wall is one of the ways the broadcaster is looking at recouping its investment.
The development should come as no surprise, as Discovery is placing a huge focus on Eurosport Player, according to Victoria Davies, SVP, country manager Central & Eastern Europe, Discovery Communications Europe.
Hopefully, technical problems with the Eurosport Player will be resolved. These happened earlier this year when lots of viewers wanted to access Bundesliga games through the Player, which resulted in viewers being prevented from watching the games.
Discovery’s move to OTT delivery will, not only for technical reasons, be an interesting development, as it bypasses current distribution agreements with the traditional distribution platforms.