The past couple of weeks have been busy ones for me with end of semester grading and the start of the FIRST Robotics building season. Couple that with NFL playoff games and even this very devoted handball fan has a little trouble finding time for the European Handball Championships.
All, I can say is thank goodness for ehfTV. Every match from the Euros is available on demand and I’ve spent a good part of this weekend catching up on what I’ve missed. The web stream quality is outstanding now and it’s great to listen to Paul Bray with his insightful commentary.
So far, lots of storylines and questions. Iceland’s looking for a new coach following their disappointing exit. Can Poland keep using their home court advantage to good effect? Can the injury riddled and somewhat aging French side continue their domination of major competitions? Probably, as long as Karabatic is directing traffic and Omeyer is in the goal.
What a great tournament the European Championships is. Why, I would pay good money to see all these games and it’s being provided free of charge if you live in the U.S. and a number of other countries. For sure it’s a far cry from the IHF web streams that have been provided in the past or even one’s the EHF has charged fans for. The 2008 debacle is still fresh in my memory. Choppy video and American expats in Italy calling the action. Americans who clearly had never even seen the sport before and I paid 30 Euros for that package!
All is forgiven EHF. All is forgiven. My only question is just how much longer can such a good deal last. I don’t know what the business model is for ehfTV, but it’s hard to see it being very profitable. Yes there’s some advertisement, but it’s pretty low key. Just a commercial at the start of the video feed and a little banner at the bottom of the screen throughout the game. A minor annoyance, but not a major intrusion to my viewing experience.
My guess is that the EHF is being forward thinking and is seeking to develop more fans via this free platform. Get fans hooked and then start charging a subscription. Or get enough fans so that TV broadcasters will be willing to pay for the rights in select countries. With the U.S., that strategy is a bit puzzling since beIN Sports does buy the rights to the 2016 Euros, but has simply decided to not show any matches.
It would certainly be interesting to see the number of views and unique IP Addresses that are watching the Euros from different countries. My guess is that the U.S. has perhaps around 800 viewers with a good portion of those being European Expats. Which may be part of the problem with the free web stream marketing strategy. The vast majority of people watching are the already converted and at least some of those fans would actually pay for the stream. Meanwhile potential new fans aren’t likely to discover ehfTV by accident.
No, in order to acquire new fans some sort of partnership is probably needed with a traditional TV network that’s willing to help market the sport. With more TV networks developing and marketing streaming platforms this could very well be the next step. Case in point is the watch ESPN App and their streaming offerings linked to services like Roku. ESPN has dozens of cricket and rugby matches that can be viewed in this manner and they even have a Roku handball page now with a link to the EHF and the IHF. Alas, nothing is there yet and the only handball related offerings now are of the wall handball variety.
Still, it makes me think that something is afoot. That someday in the not too distant future just about every meaningful handball match played in the world will be available on your web connected TV. Some of the content will be free to draw in new viewers, but more content will come with a cost. The free ride will be over, but as long as it’s a quality product with a reasonable price, I’ll be happy to foot the bill.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to enjoy efhTV for free.