9:56 PM, June 26, 2021
“Perfection, expertise and… good atmosphere.” Eurosport France’s sporting director Geraldine Pons thus defines the treatment of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, of which her media is the official broadcaster along with France Television. At JDD, it unveiled its equipment to showcase 33 sports, 339 events and more than four thousand hours of competition. “We will create seven ephemeral thematic channels in particular”, announced the journalist. Numbered from Eurosport 3 to Eurosport 9, they will broadcast in the order of Racket Sports and Golf; artistic games; football, rugby and team sports; basketball; combat sports; handball; Volleyball. The two already existing channels (Eurosport 1 and 2) will be dedicated round the clock to major events and international stars on the one hand and French performances on the other.
Eurosport 4K, meanwhile, will offer more than two hundred hours of ultra-high definition, including the opening ceremony on 23 July and closing on 8 August.
Eurosport will address sport-eager spectators
On the digital front, Eurosport, which employs about forty journalists in Paris, will open 57 special streams without advertising for all competitions to follow. “There will be something to see every moment, including new sports or hitherto less publicized players. We know that climbing, surfing or skate-boarding can attract new audiences,” explains Geraldine Pons. Due to time differences, events will take place between 1 pm and 3 pm French time. The rest of the time will be devoted to replays, on-set decryption or social debates. Geraldine Ponce is very keen to “talk about sports beyond performance”. Sample topic: Has the game come out? When will we break the record? Are Women’s Competitions Selling Out?
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In terms of expertise, Eurosport addresses the curiosity of the people towards the sport. “Our audience is connoisseurs, so we cannot afford to hire average commentators and experts,” the director adds. “We want to dissect the techniques, explain everything.” to support the channel’s journalists, including former Stade 2 presenter Céline Geraud, who joined Eurosport in April; Laurie Delhostel, who came for the Olympics from Canal+; Or Thomas Biehle, who will be Tokyo’s special envoy, put together a team of about forty advisers.
Among them: Alain Bernard (swimming), Emilie Le Pennec (gymnastics), Jackie Durand (cycling), Frédéric Josinet (judo), Stéphane Carristan (athletics), Arnaud de Pasquale (tennis), Nodjialem Miro (handball), Frédéric Weiss (Basket), Theo Currin (freestyle)… “We recruited hyperspecialists, but also aimed to target Palmares, origins and diversity of styles, claims Geraldine Pons. Yes, there are experts, you just have to find them. Yes, they will too. Comment on the men’s competitions.” Her goal: to create a big family. “There’s a Eurosport tone. We’re serious without taking ourselves too seriously. Look at us, the atmosphere is really incredible.”
A big rehearsal before Paris 2024
The long-owned TF1 channel has since 2015 belonged to the American conglomerate Discovery, which broadcasts its programs in 52 countries. Thus it would depend on 300 people sent by the company to Tokyo and calling on experts from subsidiaries overseas, for example British cyclist Bradley Wiggins. “We have a European approach to the game, Geraldine Pons continues. The results of our compatriots are very important to us and give us a boost, but we are less francocentric than others.”
For Eurosport France, the Olympic Games in Tokyo seem like a great rehearsal ahead of Paris 2024. Because Discovery Group has rights in Europe – such as the rights to the Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022. It has signed an agreement with France Television for free re-broadcasting. , but will be the sole paying broadcaster and intends to put its investment to good use. “Once again, to see everything, it will be on Eurosport”, explains Geraldine Ponce.
Until then, the group will continue its digital growth and, recognizing the need for a strong historical broadcaster – in this case the Canal+ package – depending on its application and its website – monthly subscription costs €6.99, yearly 69.99. Euro – to catch customers live. Some programs can only be viewed through the digital Eurosport. That’s what happened with the Cycling Tour of Italy in May, with some customers furious via Canal+.
The group is interested in a lot of the rights, but the football costs too much for what it earns.
How many French people watch Eurosport today? “We don’t give statistics,” says Geraldine Ponce, who has worked at the group for twenty years. A pointer: 158,000 people watched the men’s road race of the French Cycling Championships last Sunday – 610,000 across the event.
Launched in 1989, Eurosport was the first sports channel in France. Sometimes one sinks into more than one competing offering, free and paid, it wants to accelerate. And the group’s video platform Discovery+ can be trusted. Combining sports and entertainment, it already exists in the United States, the United Kingdom or Italy. Its parent company wants to launch it in France. No date has been pushed forward, but the 2024 Olympics is a credible time frame.
Discovery, who made an offer – unsuccessfully – for Ligue 1 football at the start of the year would enter the race for the major championship? Geraldine Pons explains, “The group is interested in a lot of rights, but very expensive compared to what football brings. Even if we have the Coupe de France, there are two worlds: the round ball and the the rest.” For now, Eurosport is banking on the rest. And on the Olympics.