Q&A: Warner Bros. Discovery’s Scott Young on sports streaming and its 2024 Olympics coverage

Scott Young, group SVP content, production and business operations, at Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Europe, talks to DTVE about its sports operations in Europe, its new sports tier on flagship streamer Max, and its upcoming coverage of the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics Games from July 26 to 11 August.

Warner Bros. Discovery

Scott Young (Source: Warner Bros. Discovery)

What are WBD’s preparations for its upcoming Olympics coverage?
We are committed to delivering the most immersive coverage of an Olympic Games that has ever been seen before. What does that actually mean for an audience?

It means being able to watch every moment of their favourite sport, follow their favourite team and their favourite athlete, however they wish, whether it be through traditional linear broadcasts of sports and athletes that are that are specific in their market or being able to go to our streaming platforms and watch every moment of every sport live on Max or discovery+.

It means experience the stories behind the games and behind the athletes and their achievements across our web app and social platforms, which will deliver a 360-degree, 24/7 Olympics, never stop experience from the moment they kick off. We’re very confident that the storytellers we have across all of our markets – 150-plus experts and presenters in total with a host of Olympic Games and Olympic medals under their belts – are going to provide people with the true story behind the games and not just what you can see in front of you on TV.

These Olympic Games are going to be extraordinary. They’re going to be extraordinary because right now, the world and those who love sports and entertainment, love to be amazed. They love to cheer on a sense of achievement, and people’s own achievement I think is going to be important at this point in time, more so than other times through history. The Olympic Games is far more than just a sporting event. It’s a cultural event. It’s a coming together of people from around the globe, for a sense of achievement, both personal and for their country, for fans of sport, and for people who love the idea of coming together to create a moment in time.

For people who love sport, the Olympic Games is the pinnacle of great sporting events, particularly the Summer Olympics every four years. For those who love the concept of coming together to create a moment in time that is quite remarkable, I think Paris 2024 is going to have a role to play in our society unlike many Olympics before it.

How is WBD currently navigating the sport streaming and broadcasting industry, compared to its early days in operation?

The broadcast of the Olympic Games is unrecognisable compared to what it would’ve been two or three summers ago. The single biggest change is the introduction of the streaming broadcasting industry complementing the traditional linear broadcasting industry.

Additionally, the impact of social media and the implementation of devices – you can now watch content live in the palm of your hand, wherever you are on the planet. And that means sport is portable. That means sport is enjoyable wherever you find yourself at any time or place and for something like the Olympic Games, it’s incredibly important because it means that you can enjoy the Olympics and all that the Olympics has to offer across the 3800 hours of live content, wherever you want to be.

I think the single biggest change that we’re finding now is that the Olympics is accessible no matter where you are, what your job is, what your passions are, what your own sport is, whatever you’re up to. We want to make sure that the time and place that you choose and the device that you choose, you can watch the Olympic Games. I think the immediacy of sport now and the expectation from an audience to be able to watch content whenever they want, is the single biggest change we’re now seeing, not just the Olympic Games, but in all sports broadcasting. And this change will only further accelerate in future editions of the Games.

How will the new sports tier on Max, line up with the company’s existing sports coverage on discovery+ and Eurosport?

Max is a streaming home of WBD in Europe, except for those markets where we have discovery+ (which is the UK, Italy and Germany). Max will join the most premium of our entertainment properties that have come across from HBO Max, alongside the Olympic Games and other premium sports that we broadcast across Europe in those Max markets.

What is unique for these Olympics is that fans of sport and fans of entertainment will now find one home for this valuable content. We’re able to entertain people in many different ways. And in this era, sport is entertainment. And we find that the story behind the competition and the story behind the athletes is very aligned in many of the entertainment properties you’ll also see on Max the streaming platform. So we’re very confident we’re going to discover a new audience that is going to enjoy the Olympics for the first time through Max and realise that also on that platform is many great favourites of entertainment content that they love to watch. Plus, many new releases that are timed to come out with Max, including House of the Dragon.

What is WBD putting in place to drive engagement across its content amongst sport fans?

Our broadcast of Paris 2024 began nearly a year ago. On the on the One Year to Go anniversary – July 26 2023 – we launched “Paris La Vie Sportive” to kick off an extraordinary ‘Road to’ campaign that gave everybody an insight into some of the sacrifices that the Olympians will need to take to be able to compete in the Olympic Games.

Our ‘Road to’ programme, of many different formats, short-form and long-form, includes Chasing Glory, the Olympians, the Power of the Olympics – a weekly magazine show currently airing – whilst another compelling documentary is in the pipeline that will premiere ahead of Games-time.

The shows give people an idea of what it really means to be an Olympian, and to what it means to win a medal – gold, silver or bronze, even through to the personal best achievement; what it takes to train and get to the Olympics; what it means for 10,500 athletes who descend on Paris to compete; what it means for the first time to have a gender balance to Olympic Games; and how all these stories come together across the 17 days of competition.

I think what we’re going to see is an extraordinary story that will be under the banner of Paris 2024. The Olympic Games attracts an audience like no other sporting event, people who traditionally don’t watch sports and traditionally some of the niche sports that you will see in the Olympic Games suddenly become huge fans of the Olympics, they become huge fans of sports. In turn, they become fans of those athletes.

Our stories don’t stop just leading up into the games. Those same storytellers will be delivering programmes in the morning, through breakfast programmes and preview shows that you’ll see in most of our markets, and through daily highlights shows at the end of each day where we will not only cover off the results of the competition, but also to close out many of the stories of the athletes that we introduced you to in the year building up to the games.

We want to make sure that if you’ve become a fan of the Olympians that we’ve introduced you to before the Games, that we round out that story so the viewer gets to find out how that Olympian did and what part of their journey is next.

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