By Jonathan Rest and Martin Ross
The International Handball Federation, the sport's governing body, and MP & Silva, the international sports marketing agency, have signed off their exclusive global media rights distribution deal.
The agreement, which runs from 2019 to 2025, has been in the pipeline since the IHF Council unanimously selected MP & Silva's bid back in November, but no contract had been signed.
The deal covers three cycles of the biennial men's and women's World Championships and is understood to be worth SFr173.9 million ($184.2 million) in rights fees, received in Euros (€150 million), and stipulates a SFr23.4-million spend on production, which is expected to be outsourced by MP & Silva. Rival agency Infront had offered SFr158 million for the rights from 2019 to 2025, and cited a SFr18-million production cost.
Lagardère Sports and Infront both also submitted bids for the 2019-21 and 2019-23 cycles, but the IHF preferred the longevity of the MP & Silva and Infront offers over three cycles, before making a final decision on which agency to select.
In rights fees alone, Lagardère is understood to have bid SFr73 million and just under SFr110 million for the 2019-21 and 2019-23 cycles, respectively. Infront is thought to have bid SFr70 million and SFr110 million for one and two cycles, respectively.
MP & Silva replaces BeIN Media Group, the international pay-TV broadcaster, as the international federation's rights partner.
The contract includes the full broadcast production of the World Championships and management of content creation, such as highlights and feature programming to help increase fan engagement and reach.
The IHF had stressed in the tender, launched in mid-September, that it would not be liable for any production costs, including any associated with the federation’s online streaming platform.
MP & Silva said today that it will also act as a strategic consultant to the IHF to assist in growing its global presence over the next two Olympic cycles.
Konstantinos Filippas, MP & Silva’s group executive director, commercial, said: “We are committed to extend our broadcast production expertise to showcase the senior World Championships and we look forward to working with the IHF to grow handball’s international profile with our global expertise and local knowledge.”
Hassan Moustafa, president of the IHF, added: “With MP & Silva, the IHF has contracted a valuable partner in terms of broadcasting and we are looking forward to a successful cooperation. Over the next eight senior events we will have a chance to work closely together, exchange ideas and elaborate new forms to present handball in the best way possible.
“MP & Silva is a leading international media company and we are convinced that we can achieve great results in view of the promotion of handball across the globe.”
The first tournaments in the contracts will be the 2019 men’s World Championships in Denmark and Germany, and the women's edition in Japan.
BeIN's contract (from 2014 to 2017) was worth a record SFr88 million in rights fees and SFr12 million in production costs, a marked increase on the estimated SFr60 million paid by the UFA Sports agency between 2010 and 2013.
BeIN employed the Pitch International agency to sell the IHF rights globally.
|Historical timeline of IHF's worldwide media rights-holders|
|MP & Silva||2019 to 2025|
|BeIN Media Group||2014 to 2017|
|UFA Sports||2010 to 2013|
|Sportfive (now Lagardère Sports)||2006 to 2009|
|2002 to 2005|
|Sport+ (one of entities merged in 2001 to create Sportfive)||N/A|
One of MP & Silva's major priorities will be to meet the IHF's wish to have more free-to-air coverage in key markets across Europe, most notably Germany. Indeed, in July Moustafa flagged up his hope that the federation’s next international rights partner is “open” to talks with free-to-air broadcasters in Germany.
It was BeIN’s opposition to the international availability of the satellite signal of ZDF, the German public-service broadcaster, that proved to be an insurmountable obstacle in free-to-air rights negotiations in Germany, leading to coverage of the men’s 2015 and 2017 Championships on pay-TV’s Sky Deutschland and a hastily-arranged online streaming service, respectively.
The invitation to tender also highlighted the need to grow the sport in China, USA, Japan and the UK, principally by targeting free-to-air networks.