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07 Aug 2017

FIVB ready to go OTT in 2018

By Florence Lloyd-Hughes at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Vienna

The FIVB, the international volleyball federation, will launch its own over-the-top streaming platform in 2018, Fabio Azevedo, the federation’s general director, has said. 

Speaking to Sportcal at this year’s FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Vienna, Austria, Azevedo discussed the federation’s reinvigorated commercial plans since its president, Ary Graça, was re-elected in October last year. 

Azevedo said the federation plans to launch an over-the-top streaming platform next year, which will showcase a range of FIVB content. 

He explained: “What I see in the near future will not be any exclusivity any more, so our intention is to launch our own OTT channel in 2018 selling our content directly to consumers. Allowing our fans to subscribe and see our content. 

“TV will continue but live streaming, Facebook and our own OTT platform is a must for communication.”

The OTT service will be at the forefront of the FIVB’s new communication strategy, which Azevedo says will help improve the value of federation's product. 

Since he was first elected in 2012, FIVB president Graça has sought to elevate volleyball’s global appeal to the International Olympic Committee and to potential broadcasters and sponsors, through initially launching a nine-point plan in 2015. 

Top of that list is a campaign to move volleyball to Group A (alongside athletics, swimming and gymnastics) from Group B (alongside soccer, cycling, basketball and tennis) within the IOC's revenue rankings. He is also targeting four new global sponsors by 2020, contributing an additional $10 million per year in sponsorship revenue, and a doubling of the FIVB’s present annual income of $31 million to $66 million by 2020. 

Azevedo said that the federation has “not yet” seen a huge lift in income but revenues from hosting and television rights are improving. 

“We are seeing that people want to pay more for rights," he said, adding: “We are improving the quality of our events and the technology involved”. 

The Brazilian acknowledged that the FIVB “understood” that it had “to change its product and sell it better,” with the intent of making it more commercially attractive, while also taking control of “content production and content distribution.” 

The federation has been working with Red Bull Media, the media arm of the energy drinks brand, on the management of its international TV rights and, at this weekend's championships in Vienna, Hawk-Eye and a player challenging system were used to ensure “engagement for every single point.” 

He added: “We are understanding more and more that we have to improve our communication regarding the special moments in our events and the players as well. 

“Why in beach volleyball do we not have world wide heroes yet? In beach volleyball we are not communicating properly. It’s as simple as showing the face of our players. We are not doing that.”