Eurosport CEO Peter Hutton: “We have to put our own identity on Olympic coverage”
By iSportconnect | May 17, 2016
In the UK, Sky and BT Sport have dominated the headlines for their record breaking deals to show Premier League football. However across Europe more people are taking notice of Eurosport, now owned by Discovery.
Last year they won the pan-European rights to show the Olympics from 2018 in a €1.3bn deal, their most significant investment in sports right to date.
They were also rumoured to be one of the bidding parties in last year’s auction of the Premier League matches, won by BT and Sky.
They are clearly in a position to become one of the dominant media companies in the world of sports broadcasting, and iSportconnect caught up with Eurosport’s CEO Peter Hutton at the Telegraph’s Business of Sport.
iSC– Thanks for joining us Peter. How has Discovery’s purchase of Eurosport affected the company and how does the future look moving forward?
PH – “Discovery bought Eurosport just over a year ago, and the idea of what was going to happen over the next year was a transformation – we were told to change the image of Eurosport and I think it’s gone better than expected.”
“We’re still trying to change, to change our content, to change our image and change the way people perceive us. The investment continues in terms of rights and production – it’s not just about providing better content, it’s about treating it in the right way.”
“To give it more of an identity to have national heroes as presenters and characters you can empathise with. It will take time and the Olympics is the first step in that direction but it’s a long road.”
iSC– You’ve recently gone through a rebrand, why was that decision taken at that time?
“We could’ve done the rebrand earlier to be honest, but for me I think it was important to rebrand when the story had genuinely changed. We wanted to make the content better and the rebrand is the personification of that change.”
“The thing about Eurosport is that it has a long history – we all see it in a certain way and to move away from that pan-European content, maybe second tier content some of the time, it was a big jump, so we needed to make the change and let people know we’d made the change.”
iSC – Where does Eurosport currently sit in the British broadcasting marketplace?
“The great thing over the last two years is you see the ratings rise that Eurosport has had compared to BT Sport and Sky, and the rating rise is a fraction of what is being spent.”
“I’d like Eurosport to be seen as the home of certain sports – whether it be the home of cycling or grand slam tennis, or the Olympics, so people go ‘there’s a big event on – we’ll watch it on Eurosport.’”
“If that works and establishes us as a brand connected with the biggest events in sport, then we have a justifiable place in the homes of fans across the UK.”
iSC– The deal to attain the rights to the Olympics moving forward is a hot topic in the sports world, how are you tackling this currently?
“A lot of people are excited by the Olympic rights deal but we have to do it right – we have to put an identity on it. We have to do things differently, we have to do things in a way that makes it really appeal to an audience.”
“We’re looking at the design and how we market it and want to invest in that production. Getting Jonathan Edwards in as a presenter for the Olympics is an early move, but we wanted to build him into the channel early on – but I think it will be the first announcement of many over the next few years as we build to 2018 and the first Winter Games.”
iSC – What does the future hold for Eurosport?
“I think you’ll see Eurosport invest in content, production, and market those stories better.”
“We want to get those stories across all sorts of digital platforms to attract a new audience into the channel. Dealing with sports properly and building a relationship with the audience based on the fact we deal with the sports properly. “