Olympic Channel

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.

Olympic Channel
LaunchedAugust 21, 2016 (2016-08-21)
Owned byInternational Olympic Committee
Picture formatHDTV (1080i 16:9)
SloganWhere The Games Never End
Broadcast areaWorldwide
HeadquartersMadrid, Spain[1]
WebsiteOfficial website
Streaming media
OlympicChannel.comLive Stream
YouTube TVInternet Protocol television

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.[2]

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."[3]


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,[3] 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".[2] The channel will be produced out of Madrid, and was allocated a seven-year budget of US$600 million.[3]

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.[2] The streaming platform is provided by Playmaker Media, a division of NBC Sports Group.[2]

Regional versions

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.[4]

United States

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.[5] The U.S. version of Olympic Channel launched July 15, 2017, replacing Universal HD—which itself had picked up overflow Olympic sports content following the discontinuation of Universal Sports in 2015.[6][7][8][9]

Hispanic America

In January 2019, the IOC announced a partnership with Claro TV and Claro Video to distribute Olympic Channel programming on its Claro Sports linear channel and video streaming service to Hispanic American countries.[10]


In January 2019, Voice of China media group announced plans to launch a Chinese version of the channel.[11] Named CCTV-16, the channel will be launched later in the year.


  1. Olympic Channel About Us page with headquarters address (Retrieved 22 April 2019)
  2. Spangler, Todd (26 July 2016). "IOC Sets Post-Rio Launch for Olympic Channel Free Over-the-Top Video Service". Variety. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  3. "IOC Plans Year-Round TV Channel to Appeal to Young Fans". Bloomberg. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  4. "Olympic Channel announces BeIN tie-up". SportsProMedia. Retrieved 2017-09-05.
  5. Dachman, Jason (3 March 2017). "SVG IP Production Forum: NBC Olympics President Zenkel Details Launch of The Olympic Channel". Sports Video Group. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  6. Lieberman, David (2015-11-16). "NBC Sports Group Picks Up Events That Aired On Universal Sports Network". Deadline. Retrieved 2017-07-14.
  7. Hipes, Patrick (2015-10-22). "Universal Sports Network Being Shuttered By NBCU". Deadline. Retrieved 2017-07-14.
  8. "NBCUniversal Sets Olympic Channel Launch Date". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2017-07-14.
  9. "Olympic Channel TV network set to launch". NBCSports.com. 15 December 2016. Retrieved May 11, 2017.
  10. Olympic Channel lands Claro Sports distribution deal - Sports Pro, 23 January 2019
  11. "慎海雄会见国际奥委会主席巴赫:将开播央视奥林匹克频道" [CCTV plans to launch Olympic Channel in China] (in Chinese). China Central Television.
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