YouTube to offer mix of PPV and free live coverage of Hockey World League Finals
By Jonathan Rest
The FIH, field hockey's governing body, has teamed up with YouTube, the Google-owned video sharing platform, to ensure global coverage of the forthcoming Hockey World League Finals.
Under the terms of the partnership, announced today, YouTube will live-stream matches from the men's and women's finals in countries where no broadcast deals are in place.
The action will be made available on a pay-per-view basis in countries where "digital consumption has proven to be the primary method for consuming sport," and will be free to watch in other markets.
The FIH said it is part of a wider strategy to "make hockey a global game."
The YouTube agreement will supplement coverage being provided in more than 150 countries through existing broadcast partners for the Sentinel Homes Women’s Hockey World League Final in Auckland, New Zealand from 17 to 26 November and the Odisha Men’s Hockey World League Final in Bhubaneswar, India between 1 and 10 December.
At present, for the women's final, YouTube PPV coverage will be available in the participating nations of USA and South Korea, and in Argentina for non-Argentina matches (ESPN will show Argentina's matches in the tournament), and will be free on YouTube in China.
The full broadcast list for the women's finals is available here.
The FIH said the broadcast landscape for the men's finals is still subject to change, with more TV deals likely to be in place by the time the tournament gets under way.
However, as it stands, YouTube PPV coverage will be available in the participating nations of Spain, Argentina (again for non-Argentina matches only, because of the ESPN agreement) and Belgium (non-Belgium games, because of a deal with Telenet).
For non-participating countries in both the women's and men's finals, there will be YouTube PPV coverage across large parts of Europe, and in Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Philippines, while free YouTube coverage will be offered in Iceland, Latvia and Romania, much of southeast Asia, Costa Rica and Papua New Guinea and throughout South America (excluding Brazil and Argentina, and excluding all of Argentina's matches).
The full broadcast list for the men's finals is available here.
Andy Oram, the FIH's TV and broadcast director, said: “We are delighted to engage with the biggest provider of online video content who are actively engaged and committed to growing the game. YouTube is a valuable addition to our existing partners and provides FIH with the opportunity to reach a global audience, attracting a new generation of fans to the sport through a wide range of devices that hockey can now be viewed on.
“Through our host broadcasters Sky Sport New Zealand and Star Sports, supported by our growing list of broadcast partners, fans can expect to experience world class production and programming that they have come to expect from our top level events. This will bring fans closer to the action as we aim to engage them in our sport long term.”
Tomos Grace, YouTube’s head of sport for Europe, Middle-East and Asia, added: “YouTube provides a flexible platform for content owners to reach sports fans worldwide. We're very happy to see innovative partners like the FIH make full use of this flexibility by combining YouTube's free-to-air and PPV live functionality in their key target markets.”
Earlier this year, Sportcal revealed that the FIH had bought back its global media rights from Star India, the pay-television broadcaster owned by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, despite being only three years into an eight-year deal.
That contract, announced in 2014, represented a buy-out of the FIH’s rights - the federation previously sold its rights on a territory-by-territory basis - with Star India paying an upfront fee over the eight-year period.
However, with the FIH to launch Hockey Pro League, an annual national teams competition, from 2019, the governing body reached a settlement with Star India to buy back its rights.
The federation believes its rights are now more valuable than when the Star India contract was first agreed, principally because the forthcoming launch of the Pro League will increase tenfold the number of international matches played between January and June each year.
As part of an overhaul of the sport's calendar, the Hockey World League, as well as the Champions Trophy, will be scrapped at the end of 2018.