|Launched||August 21, 2016|
|Owned by||International Olympic Committee|
|Picture format||HDTV (1080i 16:9)|
|Slogan||Where The Games Never End|
|YouTube TV||Internet Protocol television|
Olympic Channel is an over-the-top Internet television service operated by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). It was launched on 21 August 2016, alongside the closing of the 2016 Summer Olympics. The service aims to maintain year-round interest in the Olympic movement, by showcasing Olympic athletes and competitions outside of the Games proper.
The IOC operates the service with an international focus, but also stated plans to work with local National Olympic Committees and rightsholders to establish localized versions and linear services as franchised versions of Olympic Channel. The first of these, in the United States, launched in July 2017.
The service's main goal is to maintain year-round interest in Olympic sports between iterations of the Summer and Winter Olympics, especially among a younger audience; it will feature coverage of competitions in Olympic sport, as well as short and long-form programmes focusing on Olympic athletes. The service will initially broadcast in English, but with subtitles available in nine other languages on-launch. Yiannis Exarchos, overseer of Olympic Channel and CEO of Olympic Broadcasting Services, stated that the service's content would focus primarily on the stories of athletes, arguing that "We need to take some risks and it’s better to take risks now because we're stronger than we’ve ever been. The personalities of athletes, their lifestyles, are something very, very attractive."
IOC president Thomas Bach, who originally proposed the concept of an Olympics-oriented television channel in 1994 when he was a junior officer of the IOC, stated that the service would be "the start of an exciting new journey to connect the worldwide audience with the Olympic Movement all year round". The channel will be produced out of Madrid, and was allocated a seven-year budget of US$600 million. The initial digital service will have an international focus, but the IOC stated that it plans to work with National Olympic Committees and local rightsholders to develop local versions of the Olympic Channel, which may optionally include linear television channels. The streaming platform is provided by Playmaker Media, a division of NBC Sports Group.
Middle East and North Africa
On 4 September 2017, the IOC announced a partnership with beIN Sports to launch a linear Olympic Channel for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, which launched on 1 November 2017. As a lead-up to the launch, the network broadcast a daily block of Olympic Channel programming on its main channel.
At an industry forum in March 2017, NBC Olympics president Gary Zenkel stated that NBCUniversal would launch a localized version of Olympic Channel in the United States as a linear television channel later in the year. The U.S. version of Olympic Channel launched July 15, 2017, replacing Universal HD—which itself had picked up overflow Olympic sport content following the discontinuation of Universal Sports in 2015.
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