Eurosport to serve up huge summer of sport after acquiring Wimbledon broadcast rights

Eurosport is set to become the first commercial broadcaster to air live coverage of Wimbledon after holding talks with the BBC and Ofcom.

The international pay-TV sports broadcaster agreed terms with the All England Lawn Tennis Club, which holds the rights to the Wimbledon tournament, to show live games from the Grand Slam from 2016 to 2020.

However in order for the deal to go ahead Eurosport has had to negotiate terms with Ofcom and the BBC, who currently hold the broadcast rights to the tournament until 2020.

With the BBC under mounting pressure to make savings across its sports coverage in order to accommodate changes to the license fee it has been open to tie-ups with commercial broadcasters, including a previous deal with Eurosports for the Olympics.

As a result the deal between the two will see Eurosport simultaneously broadcast live coverage of this year’s final alongside the BBC, however its evening highlights have been timed so as not to clash with BBC’s own nightly roundup.

The deal marks a continuation of Eurosport’s efforts to strengthening its sports coverage since it was taken over by Discovery in 2014 and subsequently undergoing a rebrand in November last year. Since then it has gone on to acquire the rights to the French Open, the US Open and the Olympics.

Eurosport’s chief executive, Peter Hutton, discussed the latest news at a press conference in Paris alongside a number of other sports right deals.

While he said he could not yet formally announce the deal he revealed that details of the partnership with the BBC had been ironed out and was now being awaiting approval from broadcasting regulator Ofcom.

“The BBC will broadcast live coverage and highlights of finals and non-finals play on BBC1 and BBC2, which are qualifying services, and additionally on their radio services (including BBC 5 Live) and interactive streams.

“Discovery will broadcast live coverage and highlights of the finals and non-finals play on Eurosport 1 and Eurosport 2, which are non-qualifying services, and additionally on their interactive streams.”

Ofcom has put the proposal out to consultation until 15 June and would publish a statement on the decision “shortly afterwards”.

Eurosport also struck a deal to air Wimbledon in Russia and the Ukraine, adding to the coverage it already offers in Belgium.

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