Discovery’s European sports network Eurosport shocked the television industry in 2014 when it snapped up the TV rights to the Olympics across the continent for €1.3 billion (£1.2 billion). The broadcaster is now weighing up other big bets.
Eurosport chief executive Peter Hutton told a Broadcasting Press Guild breakfast in London on Wednesday that the business could look to use Discovery’s connection to billionaire John Malone to get into Formula One.
Malone’s Liberty Media acquired the motor racing franchise for $4.4 billion (£3.6 billion) last month. The American media tycoon is also one of the largest shareholders in Discovery Communications.
Asked whether this would help open doors, Hutton said: “Yes, it’s Liberty, and therefore it’s John Malone, and therefore it’s all connected in. Hopefully that helps us in the future. But I can’t talk about any conversations beyond that.”
Sky and Channel 4 currently hold the British television rights to Formula One until 2018, meaning negotiations over a new deal may not begin for another year or two.
Hutton added that Eurosport is interested in all sports rights. The pay-TV broadcaster is currently big in cycling and shares the rights to the Tour de France with ITV. Hutton said taking the rights on an exclusive basis is an ambition.
Asked if Eurosport would like to be the exclusive home of the the competition, Hutton said: “Absolutely. Personally I would love to, but the reality is there is a long-term deal in place with ITV … certainly it’s not a tomorrow conversation. Also, we have to recognise that certain [sport] federations and organisations — and [Tour de France rights owner] Amaury Sport Organisation are one of them — would like a free-to-air audience.”
Eurosport is available in 93 countries and has 228 million subscribers.