The International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) and Infront, the international sports marketing agency, have agreed terms to centralize the international distribution of FIS World Cup broadcast rights in an eight-season deal, ending a long-running dispute that threatened to spill into the Swiss courts.
The exclusive agency agreement between the pair covers the international distribution of multi-platform World Cup rights from 2026-27 to 2033-34 which will generate more than €100 million ($111 million) above the figure raised under current rights sales.
The current sales agreement sees Infront hold individual rights deals with all national associations except the Austrian Ski Association (ÖSV), which has its own deals with Eurovision Sport, the sports arm of the European Broadcasting Union, and international sports and marketing agency IMG.
However, the new deal will see Infront enter into a commission-based agency sales agreement with a minimum guarantee of over €600 million from 2026-27.
The FIS will sign off on any deals proposed by Infront, while the agency will also provide exclusive marketing implementation and international media operation services.
Infront has also gained access to additional FIS content rights including archive and highlights (to be supplied to broadcasters for free), as well as behind-the-scenes and course coverage, photography, series, and films.
The agreement will also see FIS and Infront launch a free streaming platform for coverage in markets without a TV deal.
Bruno Marty, Infront senior vice president of pro sports, said: “We have a well-established partnership with FIS and its member associations for more than two decades and have always believed in the strong potential of the FIS World Cup.
“This new approach for our collaboration with world skiing and snowboarding will allow Infront to fully support FIS’s initiative and the entire snow-sport family to continue to further grow the value of FIS World Cup media rights revenues based on our expertise and in-depth knowledge of the sports media industry.
"We trust that all stakeholders involved will benefit from the proposed future set-up and work together to increase the attractiveness, exposure, and impact of the FIS World Cup globally.”
The deal ends a long-running dispute between the federation and Infront over the ownership of FIS World Cup media rights after FIS president Johan Eliasch moved to centralize and bring the rights in-house, cutting Infront out of the process at the end of 2021.
The Wanda-owned agency has been the media rights partner for most national ski and snowboard associations for more than 20 years.
At the time, Infront said Eliasch informed the agency it was suddenly not the legitimate rightsholder of the World Cup and consequently could not sell the respective media rights, forcing the international firm to initiate legal proceedings against the FIS.
Then last year, FIS launched its FIS Media and Marketing rights sales and handling venture to be the focal point for all rights and sales across media, broadcast, marketing, and sponsorship going forward. It hired Benjamin Stoll from world soccer governing body FIFA to be the director of digital and innovation.
However, the new deal has seen a thawing of relations between the two parties, with the agreement still to be ratified by FIS’ member associations to give Infront a mandate the sell the rights.
Eliasch said: “This is a time of enormous opportunity. There are new technologies to be harnessed, new audiences to inspire, and new markets to explore. Since much of what we want and need to do depends on it, centralization of our sport’s media rights management has been central to our strategy.
“The announcement we are making today with a new framework allowing for a centralized approach begins a new chapter of prosperity for the FIS family. It will allow for a better product and planning, a digital-first approach, more money, investment, and opportunities for our athletes, our disciplines, and our national associations. It will enable us to promote our sport far more widely across all social media channels, reaching a new generation of snow sports fans.
“Finally, it provides us the opportunity to determine our own destiny. For our sport and a stronger FIS.”