Norwegian league becomes Commercial Sports Media's latest ice hockey project
Commercial Sports Media, the Stockholm-based media rights consultancy, has landed more business in ice hockey after being appointed to exclusively advise the top-tier league in Norway on its forthcoming broadcast rights tender.
Having worked with the Finnish SM Liiga and the Swedish Hockey League on their rights auctions since the consultancy launched in 2014, Commercial Sports Media will now take up a similar remit with Norwegian Top Hockey and the Norwegian Ice Hockey Federation.
The agreement to advise on rights sales to Norway’s 10-team GET Ligaen starts with the 2018-19 season, with rights to more than 200 games per year to be tendered.
TV2, the Norwegian commercial broadcaster, has shown the Norwegian league since 2009, and offers all games live across its various platforms.
TV2 airs top matches on TV 2 Sportskanalen, its sports channel, having also broadcast games on entertainment channel TV2 Zebra. An array of live matches are also shown on TV2 Sumo, the OTT service.
Jonas Persson, Commercial Sports Media’s chief executive, said today: “We are very pleased that our work with SHL and Liiga has been recognised in the Nordic market place. The ice hockey leagues are dominating or are very important properties in their respective domestic markets and they carry a strategic value.
“The customer prospects base are tangible thanks to the geography of many of the media players in the Nordic market. Hence, we are already up to speed with the market situation.”
Commercial Sports Media is currently undertaking further research on the Norwegian market and is expected to make initial contact with prospective bidders in a few weeks’ time.
As was the case in the Finnish league rights tender, the consultancy and the league are flexible over the number of years that will be offered to broadcasters in new deals.
Along with incumbent rights-holder TV2, interest could come from Discovery Communications, the media group that has been investing in premium local sports content for its channels, including Eurosport, including a six-year, NKr2.4-billion ($308.5 million) deal for rights to Norwegian soccer’s Eliteserien. Modern Times Group, which operates the Viasat channels, is another potential bidder, with its ice hockey portfolio including the NHL and Kontinental Hockey League.
Commercial Sports Media will also be seeking to maximise the nature of the market in Norway, one typified by high connectivity and the emergence of OTT players, supported by a strong e-commerce business.
The consultancy, which was launched by former IEC in Sports executives, surprised many by helping to broker the Finnish ice hockey league’s record six-year agreement with Telia, the telecoms firm aiming to ‘disrupt’ the market.
Elsewhere in the Nordics, Telia is active in Denmark and Sweden, but does not have a significant presence in Norway.
Ice hockey in Norway falls short of the popularity of the likes of biathlon, cross-country skiing or soccer, but is becoming increasingly professionalised, as arenas are improved and more players compete in the NHL.
Håkan Södergen, chief executive of Norwegian Top Hockey, stated: “Ice hockey is constantly gaining attraction in the Norwegian market and the quality is improving all the time, hence Norway’s rise on the international ranking [to number nine]. We are convinced that having Commercial Sports Media as adviser is helping us evaluate the strategic partnership and add value to our media negotiations.”