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2020 Summer Olympics

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: the ‘scary’ cost facing Hong Kong for broadcasting next two Games

  • Hong Kong audience could be shut out from next two Summer Games
  • Staggering fee is likely to be based on what China Central Television has paid
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 December, 2018, 10:11am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 December, 2018, 10:31pm

Hong Kong is facing a staggering HK$546 million (US$70 million) broadcasting fee for the two next Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo and Paris, which may kill any chance to watch the world’s biggest sporting extravaganza on television.

The amount is more than double what TVB paid – US$15 million – for broadcasting the 2016 Rio Olympics if the sum is split over the two Games.

“We were also scared when told the amount. This is just too much,” said a source who was involved in the fees negotiation for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“We know there is keen competition among Hong Kong television networks but the amount is just unaffordable for any commercial station.

“Even TVB suffered a big loss when they secured the rights for the Rio Games and no one is willing to take such a big risk.”

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Despite considerable advertisement revenue, TVB still made a loss of US$15 million on the 2016 Games, because of all the production costs.

“There are still some 20 months to go before the Tokyo Games and those interested parties can sit down and discuss the price, but unless there is a big deduction on the amount, or someone like the now defunct LeSports from the mainland steps in, we don’t think there is any chance for the Hong Kong audience to watch the Games.”

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The source said the IOC, through its broadcasting partner Dentsu Sports from Japan, might believe interested parties from mainland China could afford the amount if they wanted to use Hong Kong to promote their business, just like LeSports did when they secured the English Premier League and the 2018 football World Cup finals.

“There may be another LeSports who are willing to pay that amount to beat Hong Kong companies. We don’t know,” he said. “But if you compare the money CCTV China paid Dentsu for the rights, you will not be surprised. This may explain why they put up such an amount for Hong Kong.”

The source said mainland state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) paid US$550 million for the broadcasting rights for two Winter Olympics (2018 and 2022) and two Summer Olympics (2020 and 2024).

“The two Summer Games possibly cost them US$450 million and if you consider Hong Kong one of the biggest cities of China, that US$70 million is not too much,” he said.

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Ronnie Wong Man-chiu, honorary secretary general of the Hong Kong Olympic Committee, remained hopeful the 2020 Games would be shown in Hong Kong.

“The amount is a large figure but this is always the way the rights holder does business,” he said. “They will ask for a big amount in the initial stage but as the Games approach and if no television shows any interest, they will certainly reduce the amount.

“It’s still too early to say the Hong Kong audience cannot watch the Tokyo Games. There must be a way out as we have been watching the Olympics for many years.”

Wong cited the example of this year’s Asian Games in Jakarta when Cable TV secured the broadcasting rights just before the Games began in August.

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The initial fee was US$2 million (HK$15.6 million) but Cable is believed to have paid less than HK$1 million in a last-minute deal.

TVB and ATV, the two major local networks, shared the broadcasting rights for the Olympic Games through the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union for many years before Cable TV stepped in for the 2012 London Games by negotiating with the IOC directly.