Olympic Channel on track for 2016 launch as 27 IFs sign up

The IOC says it remains on track to launch its new Olympic Channel later this year after reaching content collaboration agreements with 27 international federations.

Olympic Channel on track for 2016 launch as 27 IFs sign up

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says it remains on track to launch its new Olympic Channel later this year after reaching content collaboration agreements with 27 international federations.

Few details have been officially released regarding the Olympic Channel project until now but IOC president Thomas Bach, who has spearheaded the creation of the channel as part of his Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms, has said the launch date for the digital over-the-top (OTT) offering will be announced “in the coming weeks”.

The international federations now signed up to the project include the worldwide governing bodies for archery, badminton, basketball, bobsleigh and skeleton, boxing, canoeing, curling, equestrian, fencing, golf, gymnastics, hockey, ice hockey, judo, modern pentathlon, rowing, rugby, sailing, shooting sports, skiing, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, triathlon, weightlifting, and wrestling.

Fifa, world soccer’s governing body, and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) are among eight federations - five in summer sports, three in winter sports - yet to conclude an agreement. Negotiations with each of those organisations are reported to be continuing.

For the federations that have reached cooperation agreements, the Olympic Channel will sit alongside their ongoing distribution arrangements with broadcasters and other media outlets. Under their agreements, the federations will work with the channel to create ‘innovative partnerships, including live event coverage, highlights, magazine shows, news coverage and original programming’, according to a statement released on Monday.

Operated by the Madrid-based Olympic Channel Services (OCS), the Olympic Channel will broadcast live sports events, news and athlete stories, as well as historical Olympic footage and official films from the IOC’s archives, amongst other programming. It is being launched as part of a suite of recommendations outlined in the IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020 initiative, which is intended primarily to ensure Olympic sports remain relevant for younger fans.

“The Olympic Channel will mark a major shift in how the Olympic movement connects with young people all year round," said Bach. "The international federations have embraced the Olympic Channel and we look forward to working with them on the exciting programming and promotional opportunities."

OCS now includes more than 60 full-time employees from 20 countries. Its technical and production units are located in Madrid, while its commercial and distribution departments are housed at the IOC’s headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The IOC's statement said the OCS facility in Madrid ’is now complete and the OCS production team has begun working with leading production companies from around the world.’ Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) chief executive Yiannis Exarchos recently confirmed that over 600 pieces of video content are being produced in-house while further programming will be commissioned by production companies in 14 countries.

“Preparations for the launch of the Olympic Channel are on course and the announcement of these cooperation agreements with our IF partners is another important step forward,” said Mark Parkman, the general manager of OCS.

“We expect to make further announcements regarding collaborations with other IFs and stakeholders in the near future. Content production has begun, the technology and platforms are being tested, and there is a growing sense of energy and excitement here among the Olympic Channel team as we prepare for launch this year.”