Seven becomes first commercial broadcaster to bag Paralympic rights

paralympics rio 2016Seven Network will become the first Australian free-to-air network to broadcast the Paralympic Games after securing the rights for the 2016 competition in Rio, pledging multi-platform coverage of the event.

While free-to-air networks have always fought for the rights to the Olympic Games, with Seven securing the rights for the Rio and the 2020 Rio games last year, the ABC has traditionally broadcast the Paralympics, where people with disabilities compete across a range of disciplines.

The move has been welcomed by Glenn Tasker, chairman of the Australian Paralympic Committee as “an historic day” for the movement, adding: “The APC is confident that the quality and depth of Paralympic coverage provided by the Seven Network will set a new standard for the Paralympic movement, not just during the 12 days of competition, but for the 18 months leading up to the Games.

“The Seven Network has embraced the Paralympic ideals and we will do everything we can to ensure our new partnership plays an important role in shaping community perceptions of people with disabilities.”

A similar move in the UK saw the rights for the London 2012 Paralympics handed to commercial broadcaster Channel 4 from the BBC, with the broadcaster making a huge marketing push and recruiting new reporters and hosts, many with disabilities, to front the coverage.

As part of it Australian comedian Adam Hills fronted The Last Leg show offering an alternative look at the Games, while the network also produced the acclaimed Meet the Superhumans TVC.

Seven has pledged at least 14 hours per day coverage of the event which takes place after the Olympics, and has promised to utilise its hybrid broadband broadcast TV (HbbTV) and digital offerings to show more events. It has also secured the radio rights, although it is unclear what it will do with those at this point.

Tim Worner, CEO of Seven West Media, added: “We are delighted to be able to bring this extraordinary event to all Australians. The Paralympic Games take sports to a new level, they inspire and we take with great pride our responsibility to provide the Games to all Australians across all forms of delivery platforms.”

ABC chairman Mark Scott said in a statement: “The ABC is proud of the role we have played in growing a strong audience for the Paralympic Games so there is genuine competition from the commercial networks and money to broadcast them. We are sorry to see them go but we wish the games and its athletes well for Rio and beyond.”

Alex Hayes


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