BBC Hit With Complaints Over Lack of Live Olympic Coverage
The situation is linked to the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) deal with Discovery regarding the European television rights for the games.
The BBC has come under fire for its lack of live coverage of the Tokyo Olympics, The Guardian reports.
As the newspaper explains, while the BBC was able to “offer dozens of free livestreams of different sports” during the Olympic Games of 2012 and 2016, the situation changed after the IOC sold the European television rights for the event to Discovery for £920 million.
Discovery then opted to “put the vast majority of the coverage behind a paywall,” making it available through Eurosport channels or via the Discovery+ streaming service.
Since Discovery still had to make some of the coverage "available on a free-to-air channel," the company opted to do so in the UK via a "sub-licensing arrangement" with the BBC, which can only show "a maximum of two live events at one time" – one feed through a TV channel and the other through the red button service.
While the deal was announced back in 2016, the Tokyo Olympics is the first games with this arrangement in place, leading to the BBC to receive a large number of complaints from disgruntled viewers.
"The BBC is no longer able to offer livestreams of every sport during the Olympics due to the terms of the licensing arrangements laid down by the rights holder, Discovery," a BBC spokesperson said.
They stated, however, that the broadcaster would continue to bring "all the must-see moments" to the UK public.
The newspaper also points out that there's going to be a new Olympics TV rights deal for Europe after 2024, when the BBC might "face a competitive bid from other British free-to-air channels such as ITV for the rights to show highlights of the events."