Olympic sports are one step closer to the worldwide year-round broadcast coverage that millions of fans want to watch. At today’s press conference concluding this week’s meeting of the IOC Executive Board in Montreux, Switzerland, IOC President Thomas Bach reported plans for a year-round broadcast network as one of three lead agenda items of a total of forty Executive Board recommendations. Each of the forty recommendations will be put to a vote by the International Olympic Committee at its next meeting December 8 and 9.
The vision for a year-round broadcast network remains a work in progress. Today’s vote of confidence by the IOC Executive Board confirmed the soundness of a feasibility study and recommendations presented by experts from Olympic Broadcasting Service (OBS). OBS, billed as “Host Broadcaster for the Olympic Games” is based in Madrid, Spain – a good foundation for reaching the large worldwide audience of one billion Spanish speaking television viewers. No formal recommendation regarding the language choices of the planned Olympic TV Channel was made today, but the fact that the press event with fifty journalists from around the globe was held entirely in English gave an advance indication that English will be the primary language.
With this week’s approval by the IOC Executive Board, the planned Olympic TV Channel is on a fast track to formal approval by the collective IOC membership, which will meet in Monaco December 8 and 9. The complete agenda will dedicate an important part of the discussion to changes in the bidding process to host the Olympic Games and practical steps to help make hosting the Olympic Games less expensive while providing more lasting benefits for host cities. The IOC bid award calendar will keep the current policy of finalizing selection of host cities seven year before the Olympic Games. This means U.S. ambitions to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games will be voted on in 2017. Since the proposal to proceed with recommendations for the Olympic TV Channel requires just a simple majority of votes by the IOC membership, fewer votes than current IOC President Thomas Bach won in his election last year, the outlook for final approval to move forward with an Olympic TV Channel is favorable.
The IOC leadership supports a flexible approach to launch timing. Bach clarified that the launch will not take place in just a few months after anticipated approval by the IOC Board meeting this December and will move forward when launch conditions are most favorable.
The participation today’s IOC Executive Board Press Event indicated that there is high potential for an Olympic television channel to appeal to the four billion viewers around the world who watch the Olympics when the Olympic Games take place. Almost all of the journalists participating were from news agencies like Associated Press or other print channels. While the television broadcasters which pay hefty fees to broadcast the Olympic Games provide near saturation coverage during the games and often have excellent “countdown” previews in the months preceding the games, other broadcast coverage is very limited. The rest of the time, major league sports with large public relations budgets dominate broadcast sports. So for the many fans who would like to see their own favorite Olympic sports broadcast all year round, today’s news from Montreux is good news.