Eurosport is on the verge of being the first commercial broadcaster to be allowed to broadcast live UK coverage of Wimbledon this summer.
The pay-TV channel has finalised details with the BBC about how it can partner with the corporation to air the tournament from 2016 to 2020 and is now awaiting consent from regulator Ofcom.
Under the deal Eurosport will simultaneously broadcast live coverage of the final with the BBC but also air evening highlights timed not to clash with the corporation’s own nightly roundup.
The BBC has aired Wimbledon for eight decades but with increasing pressure on the licence fee it has been looking to make savings with tie-ups with commercial broadcasters.
Speaking at a press conference in Paris in which Eurosport and its parent Discovery announced a number of sports rights deals, Eurosport chief executive Peter Hutton said he could not yet announce a deal about Wimbledon but said details how how it would work with the BBC have been ironed out.
He said “It’s with the regulator, everything else is sorted” and pointed to Ofcom’s website.
There the proposals put forward by the two companies are laid out and say, “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 which gives it little time to make its decision before Wimbledon begins on 27 June.
Discovery is hopeful the groundbreaking move will be given the green light by Ofcom and Hutton said if it goes ahead it gives Eurosport coverage of the four grand slam tennis events.
He added that it would be a “real privilege to be first pay broadcaster to be allowed into Wimbledon”.
Discovery and Eurosport have been on drive to buy more sports rights since Discovery became a majority shareholder in 2014.
source : theguardian.com/media/2016/jun/02/eurosport-wimbledon-live-bbc-ofcom