Eurosport seals comprehensive EHF rights swoop in France and Poland
By Jonathan Rest
The new-look EHF Champions League, the top men's European club handball competition, gets under way this evening, with Eurosport, the Discovery-owned, pan-continental broadcaster, to show the action exclusively in France and Poland.
The new six-year rights agreement was officially announced today, and runs to the end of the 2025-26 season.
The contract, brokered by the Infront agency and DAZN, the international over-the-top streaming platform, covers the men's and women's Champions Leagues, the new EHF Handball League and the EHF European Cup.
Additionally in Poland, the agreement covers the men's and women's EHF Euros, the top national teams tournament, in 2022, 2024 and 2026, and Poland's away qualifying matches.
EHF rights in France have been held by pay-TV's BeIN Sports, and it will still show the delayed 2019-20 Champions League Final4, which will take place in Cologne, Germany in December.
In Poland, pay-TV's Canal Plus has been the traditional EHF rights partner.
David Szlezak, EHF Marketing managing director said: “Together with Eurosport and their innovative approach and high-quality, fan-centric broadcast, we will further develop the product in France and Poland, engage the handball community and strengthen the position of the EHF Champions League as a premium club competition.”
Antonio Dominguez, Infront senior director of handball, said: “France and Poland both have a hugely passionate handball fans as well as a huge potential for further growth of the sport. The EHF Champions League is the pinnacle of the club game and we are happy to be bringing it to the homes of supporters in both countries.”
James Chubb, vice-president of global rights partnerships, DAZN Group, added: “Partnering with Eurosport in these key handball markets shows again how DAZN Group and Infront are working together to unlock new commercial opportunities for EHFs Club competitions, and grow the popularity and reach of the sport.”
Infront and DAZN handle the EHF’s commercial rights for 2020 to 2030 in an agreement worth between €500 million ($593.2 million) and €600 million in rights fees and services.
Last week, DAZN acquired club competition rights in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Spain until 2026, while state broadcaster BTRC landed the rights in Belarus.
The women's 2020-21 Champions League got under way last weekend, while the men's season starts tonight. Matches will be played over two slots at 6.45pm (CET) and 8.45pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
The switch to midweek matches was ratified in December 2018 after extensive talks with Infront, DAZN, clubs, leagues and players.
The EHF said that at the time that the change “means not only an ‘appointment to view’ each week for fans but also much better scheduling options for TV partners in the future, with no overlap of men’s and women’s top competitions in the future.”
The 16-team men's Champions League features PSG and Nantes from France and Lozma Vive Kielce from Poland.
There are no Polish representatives in this season's women's Champions League, with French interest coming from Metz and Brest.
Other broadcasters signed up for the new rights cycle beginning 2020-21 include: Nordic Entertainment Group in the Nordic region; Arena Sport in the Balkan region; AMC Networks International in Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia; OTE in Greece; Eleven Sports in Italy; LRT in Lithuania; Poverkhnost in Ukraine; and Match TV in Russia.Sportcal