Winter Olympic Games are the most important sports event of the year. Thanks to live broadcasts, from 9th to 25th of February, fans from around the world can watch the struggles of their idols in Korean Pyeongchang without moving from home.

 Discover the history of Olympic broadcasts


The Games were born at the same time as the cinema, at the end of the 19th century, and appeared in the famous newsreels, which were shown in cinemas before the days of television news. Despite a delay of several weeks, cinema-goers loved the feeling of being in the stands at the venues, before all sharing the excitement generated by that of the commentators, with the advent of talking pictures. From the 1930s to the 1960s, radio was the number one media channel for the Games, before making way for television…

While TV technology took its first steps in Olympic Berlin in 1936, it flourished in 1948, in the British capital. That year, Olympic images were beamed directly into homes. Already, things were moving beyond the simple factual broadcast of the day’s events. Filming was live; angles and perspectives were multiplied; stories were told. The spectator’s experience moved from being collective (the cinema newsreels, the TV halls in Berlin) to family oriented.

Television, stimulated by the Olympic Games, was beginning its never-ending marathon of technological and global progress. This decade saw a number of firsts. Rome 1960: first live broadcasts in many European countries. Tokyo 1964: first satellite broadcasts. Mexico City 1968: first wireless, hand-held colour cameras! Audience figures grew into the hundreds of millions, and the viewers were delighted.

Nowadays 4K broadcasts are already common and next revolutions are being prepared. Japanese NHK operator announces readiness to broadcast in 8K format during the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.

The IOC is the owner of the global broadcast rights for the Olympic Games – including broadcasts on television, radio, mobile and internet platforms – and is responsible for allocating Olympic broadcast rights to media companies throughout the world through the negotiation of rights agreements.

OBS is responsible for providing the international television and radio signals from the Games to all rights-holding broadcasters around the world.

The IOC established Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) in 2001 to serve as the permanent host broadcaster for the Olympic Games, eliminating the need to continually rebuild the broadcast operation for each edition of the Games. It ensures that the high standards of Olympic broadcasting are consistently maintained from one edition fo the Games to the next.

For the curious

The Olympic Museum created an extraordinary interactive presentation, which in an amazing way, presents the history of the transmission of the Olympic Games. Interesting anecdotes, videos and photos allow you to move in time from 1900 and analyze over the years, how technology evolved and transmissions changed.
This extraordinary tour is available HERE