2020 Tokyo Games: 'Nice assurance' with early deal

Japanese athletes and school children coming together to display the Tokyo 2020 sports pictograms during an event in Tokyo last week. Japan is an hour ahead of Singapore, which means that the 2020 Olympic Games will be held at optimal timing for view
Japanese athletes and school children coming together to display the Tokyo 2020 sports pictograms during an event in Tokyo last week. Japan is an hour ahead of Singapore, which means that the 2020 Olympic Games will be held at optimal timing for viewers in Singapore.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Mediacorp secures broadcast rights for the 2020 Tokyo Games more than a year ahead

Ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics, sports fans here sat at the edge of their seats before Mediacorp secured an eleventh-hour deal with Dentsu Inc for the Games' live broadcast rights, a day before the opening ceremony.

There will not be a repeat of that, as the broadcaster announced yesterday that it has secured broadcast rights to the 2020 Summer Olympics and the 2022 Winter Games.

It said in a press statement it obtained the rights from Dentsu, which was awarded exclusive broadcast rights for the Olympic Games in 22 Asian territories until 2024 by the International Olympic Committee.

Mediacorp also clinched the broadcast rights to the 2020 Youth Olympic Winter Games and the 2022 Youth Olympic Games.

Mediacorp chief executive Tham Loke Kheng said: "The Olympic Games is a global event that inspires people the world over and unites nations like no other.

"We especially look forward to shining the spotlight on Team Singapore and rallying Singaporeans behind their amazing endeavours."

The uncertainty over watching Singapore athletes live at the 2016 Rio Games was a hot-button issue, with Mediacorp reportedly unwilling to match Dentsu's initial asking price of US$6 million (S$8.11 million). Both parties eventually settled on a lower price, believed to be around US$3.2 million.

ALL EYES ON HIM

Also, there was almost the situation where Singaporeans missed out on watching 'live' the first Olympic gold medal that Singapore won through Joseph Schooling. There would have been a massive outcry if that had happened.

JAMES WALTON, sports business group leader at Deloitte Singapore and South-east Asia, on how Singaporeans would have missed out on watching Joseph Schooling win gold in 2016 if a broadcast deal was not struck at the last minute.

A Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth spokesman said then: "The Government notes that prices for 'live' sports content of major games like the Olympics have been escalating in recent years.

"It has reached the point where we have assessed to be neither prudent nor value-for-money to spend more and more on escalating rights fees."

James Walton, sports business group leader at Deloitte Singapore and South-east Asia, felt that a few factors helped both parties strike a deal more than a year ahead of the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony.

He said: "The last Olympics was the first time Dentsu had the rights for Asia... The first time you negotiate with anyone, it takes a bit of time to get to know each other, and the second negotiation should be smoother."

He added that the fact Japan and Singapore are in similar time zones as compared to Brazil - Tokyo is an hour ahead of Singapore while Rio de Janeiro is 11 hours behind - means that the 2020 Games will be held "at optimal timing for people in Singapore".

"Also, there was almost the situation where Singaporeans missed out on watching 'live' the first Olympic gold medal that Singapore won through Joseph Schooling. There would have been a massive outcry if that had happened," Walton said.

"Having seen the success and the coverage that Joseph's medal received, there is obviously a desire to make sure we can build on that with Joseph... and even one or two of the young fencers who are coming up and may be outside shots for a medal at this upcoming Games.

"There is definitely a desire for Singaporeans to see the country succeed at the Olympic stage."

Walton also noted how an earlier deal could benefit the broadcaster, and said: "It allows them to pitch for advertising over a prolonged period and make a case, and secondly to prepare some local-specific content... (such as) athlete features, sports features and other content that helps them enhance coverage both on online platforms and main TV channels.

"Knowing they are the rights holders early on gives them more time to produce that content which makes the whole experience more attractive for viewers and sponsors."

Andy Ang, a 37-year-old engineer, said: "It's nice to know early on we can get to watch the Olympics on free-to-air TV.

"It is something my family and I look forward to every four years and with the prospect of Singaporeans winning medals, it is a nice assurance we will get to watch them compete."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2019, with the headline ''Nice assurance' with early deal'. Print Edition | Subscribe