7Sports lands extensive IHF deal to 2025 and agrees Eurosport sub-license
7Sports, the sport business unit of German commercial broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1, has acquired rights in the country to the biennial men's and women's handball World Championships in a six-year deal, and sub-licensed some matches to Eurosport Deutschland, a unit of the pan-European sports broadcaster.
The contract, brokered by the Lagardère Sports agency, begins with the 2019 IHF Men's World Championships in Germany and Denmark next month, where Sportdeutschland.TV, the online portal created by the DOSB, the German Olympic sports federation, but now owned by ProSiebenSat.1,
The only matches that will not be made available free on the portal are those involving the German national team, which will be streamed on Sportdeutschland.TV Plus, a subscription service set to launch in January.
That is because in October, ARD and ZDF, the German public-service broadcasters, agreed comprehensive deals for free-to-air rights to the men's World Championships between 2019 and 2025, and the European Championships of 2020 and 2022.
Throughout the duration of the contract, which covers four men's and four women's world championships, Sportdeutschland.TV and Handball-Deutschland.TV will stream more than 700 matches.
In a sub-licensing deal, Eurosport will broadcast 15 games from each of the men's world championships only on free-to-air TV, but its package does not include any Germany games.
Zeljko Karajica, chief executive of 7Sports, said: "There's never been more head-to-hand handball - with our comprehensive rights package and distribution partners, viewers and fans will not miss a single game and be excited about their team live."
Nikolaus von Doetinchem, executive vice-president of global media at Lagardère Sports, added: "This is outstanding news for all German handball fans: full 360 degree coverage is guaranteed until 2025."
Susanne Aigner-Drews, managing director of Discovery Germany, said: "Handball has a large fan base and is the most important team sport after football in Germany. The many handball fans can now look forward to extensive coverage of the World Cup in free-to-air television, making Eurosport the long-term destination for fans of the national handball teams."
The agreement further bolsters Sportdeutschland.TV's handball coverage. It has been showing this month's women's European Championships, which finish on Sunday, and also held rights to the men's Euro 2018 and women’s 2017 World Championships, while other properties include the women’s Handball Bundesliga, the men's second-tier 2. Handball Bundesliga, various national leagues and selected men’s, women’s and junior national team games.
The October free-to-air agreements with ZDF and ARD came after the International Handball Federation had come under pressure from the DHB, the German handball federation, to take action in order to enable a domestic broadcast rights deal to be agreed for the 2019 World Championships.
The move followed headlines in Germany about the threat of another free-to-air TV 'blackout’ of the men’s World Championships after German coverage of the men’s tournaments in 2015 and 2017 was affected by a row over the international availability of the satellite signal of ZDF.
The opposition of BeIN Media Group, the international pay-TV broadcaster and rights-holder, to the ZDF signal proved to be an insurmountable obstacle in free-to-air rights negotiations in Germany. This led to coverage of the men’s 2015 and 2017 Championships appearing on pay-TV’s Sky Deutschland and via a stream funded by DHB sponsor DKB, the German financial services firm, respectively.
In September, Lagardère Sports concluded an agreement with the IHF for worldwide broadcast distribution rights to the men’s and women’s World Championships from 2019 to 2025, a contract originally awarded to rival MP & Silva.
The IHF had earlier terminated its €150-million ($169 million) agreement with the financially-stricken MP & Silva and entered into negotiations with Lagardère Sports, which then secured the exclusive media distribution rights as well as the rights to produce the broadcast signal.
The news marked a return to selling rights to the IHF’s flagship competitions for Lagardère after its erstwhile Sportfive agency held the rights between 2002 and 2009, before losing out on the rights to UFA Sports in an acrimonious invitation to tender process.
Meanwhile, AOK, the German health insurance firm, has extended its role as the main sponsor of the DHB until at least the end of 2021 in a deal also brokered by Lagardère Sports.
AOK has been the official health care partner and shirt sponsor of the national team since 2014. It also gets branding on courtside medical cases.