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VIDEO: Champions League Group Play (Week 3)

 

Talant Dujshebae will be in the stands in Skopje to see Vardar take on Paris SG.  Will he soon be the coach of either of those teams?

Talant Dujshebaev will be in the stands in Skopje to see Vardar take on Paris SG. Will he soon be the coach of either of those teams?

ehfTV’s designated “Match of the Week” has the two evenly matched foes with France’s Dunkerque hosting Denmark’s Kolding facing off in a Group B clash.  It’s still early in Group Play, but with two losses under its belt Dunkerque need’s a win badly if it still has plans on moving to the round of 16.   Dunkerque is a .5 goal favorite.  ehfTV’s Tom Ó Brannagáin’s will be on site with English language commentary.

Dunkerque vs. Kolding (Sunday, 13 Oct 1700 CET/1100 U.S. Eastern Time)
Video: Link

If you can’t catch the match live it will also be available later “on demand”. Further, U.S. residents with beIN Sport can also catch a retransmission on Wednesday, 16 October at 1700 (Eastern Time).

While Dunkerque vs. Kolding is the designated match of the week, in my opinion there are two far more interesting contest taking place on Sunday:

Vardar Skope vs Paris SG (Sunday, 13 Oct 1900 CET/1300 U.S. Eastern Time)
Video: Link

Two weeks ago Paris lost to the other Skopje team, Metalurg.  Now they return to play Vardar in the same arena.  Vardar already fought Barca to a draw there so could the world’s richest club lose again in Skopje to fall to 5th place in Group C?  Maybe Coach Philippe Gardent’s job is in jeopardy?  And what of Vardar?  They just sacked their coach and rumors are running rampant that former Madrid Coach, Talant Dujshebaev could be their next coach.  Dujshebaev will be in the stands to watch his son Alex play for Vardar and he swears that this trip was planned weeks in advance.  Who knows?  Maybe Dujshebaev will end up coaching who ever loses this match.  Has there ever been a match with so many questions?  All in the cauldron that is Boris Trajkovski Sports Center: perhaps the best place in the world to watch a handball match.

Nothing against the fine folks in Northern France, but Tom Ó Brannagáin and the rest of the EHF team should accidentally get on the wrong flight and head for Skopje. This is the real Match of the Week.   Quite frankly I don’t think I’ve ever been so eager to see a Group Play match.  Let’s hope it lives up to expectations. (Paris is a 2 goal favorite.)

Wisla Plock vs Kielce (Sunday, 13 Oct 1930 CET/1330 U.S. Eastern Time)
Video: Link

This all Polish clash should be entertaining.  Kielce has been the top Polish side for the past few years, but Wisla Plock with a few new roster additions would like to unseat them.  Kielce already beat Plock 32-28, so this will be a chance for them to make amends.  .

I will replace the live video links with on demand video links when they are available at the ehfTV website. If you go to the ehf website yourself click on the side arrows to get to the “Full Match” page. A word of caution, however, the EHF sometimes posts match interviews with revealing titles like “Jicha scores the decisive goal,” so you might want to use a sheet of paper to mask the screen if you want to watch the matches oblivious to the outcome.

ehfTV Page: Link

EHF Week 3 Preview: Link (A written summary by Bjoern Pazen previewing all 12 matches)

Tom Ó Brannagáin’s latest blog post: Link

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VIDEO: Champions League Group Play (Week 2)

MOTW

This week’s “Match of the Week” has the two pre-season favorites in Group A facing off as Hungary’s Veszprem hosts Germany’s Rhein-Neckar Lowen. Last week Rhein Neckar escaped with a draw against Ukraine’s HC Motor Zaporozhye while Veszprem easily took care of St Petersburg. Veszprem is a 3.5 goal favorite. The Match of the Week is the ehfTV marquee game and includes Tom Ó Brannagáin’s English language commentary.

Veszprem vs. Rhein-Necker (Sunday, 28 Sep 1700 CET/1100 U.S. Eastern Time)
Video: Link

If you can’t catch the match live it will also be available later “on demand”. Further, U.S. residents with beIN Sport can also catch a retransmission on Monday, 30 September at 1700 (Eastern Time).

Other matches worth checking out this weekend include:

Dunkerque vs Wisla Plock (Saturday, 27 Sep 1600 CET/1000 U.S. Eastern Time)
France likes to think it now has the world’s 2nd best national league, but Dunkerque lost by 10 to Poland’s Kielce last week. This week they are at home against another Polish side which narrowly lost to Kiel the week before. The linesmakers have this match as a “pickem”
Video: Link

HC Metalurg vs Paris St Germain (Saturday, 27 Sep 1800 CET/1200 U.S. Eastern Time)
On paper, with its new signings and loaded roster Paris is a contenter for the title. So far this season, however, they’ve failed to impress. Last week they pulled ahead at home to beat Minsk 34-30, but the game was a lot closer than the final score. A road trip to Macedonia will be a good test for their mettle. Paris is a 3.5 goal favorite.
Video: Link

Aalborg vs Logrono (Sunday, 28 Sep 1700 CET/1100 U.S. Eastern Time)
Both these sides lost last week and are looking for their first win in the competition. Logrono (Naturhous La Rioja) is the other Spanish team (aside from favorite Barca) and I’ll be watching their performance to see just how far the Liga Asobal has slipped. Aalborg is a 2 goal favorite.
Video: Link 

I will replace the live video links with on demand video links when they are available at the ehfTV website. If you go to the ehf website yourself click on the side arrows to get to the “Full Match” page. A word of caution, however, the EHF sometimes posts match interviews with revealing titles like “Jicha scores the decisive goal,” so you might want to use a sheet of paper to mask the screen if you want to watch the matches oblivious to the outcome.

ehfTV Page: Link

EHF Week 2 Preview: Link (A written summary by Bjoern Pazen previewing all 12 matches)

Tom Ó Brannagáin’s latest blog post: Link

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VIDEO: EHF Champions League “Match of the Week” returns

Wisla-Kiel

Just a reminder that Champions League Group Play has started and the first ehfTV Match of the Week is later today as Poland’s Wisla Plock hosts Germany’s Kiel.  Wisla Plock knocked off France’s perennial power, Montpellier in a wild card playoff to reach the group stage, now they will try to upend traditional German power, Kiel in week 1.  Kiel is a 2.5 goal favorite.

The match will be available live on the ehfTV web streaming platform today (22 September) at 1700 Central European Time or 1100 U.S. Eastern Time.   English language commentary will be provided by the always energetic, Tom Ó Brannagáin.

If you can’t catch the match live it will also be available later “on demand”.  Further, U.S. residents with beIN Sport can also catch a retransmission on Monday, 23 September at 1700 (Eastern Time)

Additionally, all of the matches of week 1 are available for viewing and without giving away details there are a few surprises.  Check out the links below:

Wisla Plock vs Kiel Video (On Demand): Link

All Matches (On Demand): Link  (Warning:  There currently isn’t a way to go directly to the On-Demand matches without being exposed to some content revealing the outcome of matches)

EHF Week 1 Preview:  Link (A written summary by Bjoen Pazen previewing all 12 matches)

Tom Ó Brannagáin’s latest blog post: Link

Google Hangout preview of the season:  Link

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VIDEO/AUDIO Wisla Plock vs. Montpellier

 

Wisla Plock's Muhamed Toromanović taking a shot vs Montpellier.

Wisla Plock’s Muhamed Toromanović taking a shot vs Montpellier.

France’s Montpellier and Poland’s Wisla Plock battled it out over two games to see which side would earn the right to play in the Champions League this season.  Montpellier won the first match at home, 29-27 this past Thursday.  On Sunday they traveled to Poland for the second leg.  The video for the match is courtesy of ehfTV and my audio commentary is in the MP3 files below.

The first half segment has a synchronization count at 3:00 on the ehfTV clock in the lower left hand of the screen.  Start the video and pause it at 3:00. Then open the MP3 file and when I start my synchronization count unpause the video.

For the 2nd half my synchronization count starts at 48:30

Wisla Plock vs. Montpellier Video: Link

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Champions League Quarterfinals: Video links and odds (Plus audio for Flensburg-Hamburg)

ehfcl

The Champions League quarterfinal matches will be played this weekend and next.  The winners of the two game (aggregate goals) contests will advance to the Final Four in June.  Unlike the Round of 16 there are few complaints to be had with these pairings.  Barcelona and Kiel are both favorites to advance, but an upset is not out of the question.

Below are the four pairings along with links to the match videos at ehfTV.  I will replace the live links with on demand links when they are available.  And since the Final Four doesn’t take place until 1-2 June, you’ve got plenty of time to watch all 8 matches at your leisure.   To remain oblivious to the outcome just bookmark this page and return when you have time to watch a match.  Finally, don’t forget to write down the scores of the first legs as it’s the total aggregate score that counts.

Point spreads are in parentheses.  Game times are Central European Time.  Be sure to check out the short video preview before you watch the matches

Madrid vs. FC Barcelona
Preview:  Link
20 April, 1900 Barca (-3) Video Link 
27 April, 1900 Video Link

Skopje vs. Kielce
Preview:  Link
21 April, 1700 Kielce (-.5) Video Link
28 April, 1700 Video Link

Kiel vs. Veszprem
Preview:  Link
21 April, 1715 Kiel (-4) Video Link
27 April, 1600 Video Link

Flensburg  vs. Hamburg
Preview:  Link
21 April, 1845 Flensburg (-2) Video Link  (Audio Links are below)

I’ve done at audio commentary (see below) for the first and second halve. You can synch up this MP3 file with the video.

1) Forward the video to exactly 4:00 (1st Half) or 46:20 (2nd Half) and then pause the video player.
2) Open the pop up player for the audio and wait for the synchronization count.
3) Unpause the video as the count starts

28 April, 1830 Video Link
(Note:  The second leg will be shown on beIN Sport)

EHF’sFirst Leg preview article: Link

 

Current odds to win the title

Kiel 2 to 1
Barcelona 2 to 1
Veszprem 7 to 1
Flensburg 8 to 1
Hamburg 9 to 1
Kielce 12 to 1
Madrid 16 to 1
Skopje 50 to 1

 

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VIDEO: Champions League Round of 16: Links and odds

Silvio Heinevetter will mind the nets for the Berlin Foxes in their marquee showdown vs Madrid in the Round of 16.

Silvio Heinevetter will mind the nets for the Berlin Foxes in their marquee showdown vs Madrid in the Round of 16.

The Champions League Round of 16 matches will be played this weekend and next.  The winners of the two game (aggregate goals) contests will advance to the quarterfinals in April.

Below is a handy reference page of the games, times, and video links.  Of course, you can always go the EHF website for this info, but if you want to be kept in the dark as to outcomes, this is the place to start.

I’ll post a link to the full match replays when they are made available at the ehfTV site.

Live matches:  Link
Archive of matches:  Link

Game times are Central European Time (NOTE:  Europe has not yet started Daylight Savings Time, so the time difference to the U.S. East Coast is just -5 hrs instead of the usual -6)

Here are the 4 matchups between the #4 and #1 seeds.  The #4 seeds are listed first and will host the first leg.  Point spreads are in parentheses.

Bjerringbro-Silkeborg vs. FC Barcelona
17 March, 1700 Barca (-5.5) Video Link
24 March, 1715 Video Link

Reale Ademar Leon vs. MKB Veszprem
17 March, 1700 Veszprem (-3.5) Video Link
23 March, 1600 Video Link

Pick Szeged vs. Kielce
17 March, 1500 Kielce (-2.5) Video Link
24 March, 1700 Video Link

Celje vs. Hamburg
16 March, 1615 Hamburg (-2.5) Video Link
21 March, 1930 Video Link
(Note:  The First leg will be shown on beIN Sport on Wednesday)

Here are the 4 matchups between the #3 and #2 seeds.  The #3 seeds are listed first and will host the first leg.

Chekhovskie Medvedi vs. Kiel
14 March, 1930 Kiel (-2.5) Video Link
24 March, 1930 Video Link

Minsk vs. Metalurg
14 March, 1900 Minsk (-2) Video Link
23 March, 1800 Video Link

Madrid vs. Berlin
17 March, 1800 Madrid (-2) Video Link
24 March, 1800 Video Link
(Note: The 2nd leg will be shown on beIN sport via tape delay)

Velenje vs. Flensburg
17 March, 1930 Flensburg (-2) Video Link
23 March, 1715 Video Link

Current odds to win the Title
Kiel 1.5 to 1
Barcelona 2 to 1
Veszprem 6.5 to 1
Hamburg 12 to 1
Flensburg 12 to 1
Madrid 14 to 1
Kielce 17 to 1
Berlin 28 to 1
Medvedi 80 to 1
Skopje 199 to 1
Minsk 249 to 1
Celje 299 to 1
Leon 500 to 1
Velenje 499 to 1
Silkeborg 500 to 1
Szeged 500 to 1

Odds point to Madrid vs. Berlin as the pairing to watch

The handicap point spreads for the first leg only have 2 home teams (Minsk and Madrid) favored to win.  Coupled with the very long odds for those 6 teams to win the title this suggests that the other 6 matches may be foregone conclusions. After all, if they aren’t even favored to win on their home floor what can be expected from the on the road in the return leg?  Further, the Minsk-Metalurg matchup while it might be a close contest between two evenly matched sides whoever wins that matchup will face long odds regardless of who they play in the quarterfinal.  All this points to there being only one quality pairing: Madrid vs. Berlin.

Suggested viewing guide

As many of you know since I moved back to the U.S., I rarely, if ever watch any of the Champions League games live.  The time difference in a busy schedule just doesn’t make it very practical.  Fortunately, ehfTV has a great archive of all the matches and if you’re careful you can access that archive without finding out the scores first.  With so many games and limited time here’s how I suggest you watch the matches over the next couple of weeks. (Or take a month, if you like the 1/4 finals aren’t till later in April)

1) Watch all of the first leg between Madrid vs. Berlin

2) Check out the first leg of the 6 matches where the home teams are underdogs.  Fast forward through match and if the home team is putting up a fight plan on watch more of the match towards the end.  Keep in mind, though, that with the two game aggregate format these underdogs can’t be content with a narrow win as it will be a lot tougher on the road in the 2nd leg.

3) Watch all of the 2nd leg of Madrid vs. Berlin (or at least as long is interesting in terms of aggregate)

4) Hopefully watch all of a “surprise” 2nd leg contest(s) where the favorites has a sizable aggregate to make up.

5) Watch the Minsk-Skopje contests

EHF First Leg Preview: Link

VIDEO Archive:  ehfTV Full Matches:  Link

 

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VIDEO: Larvik HK loses due to Electroshock treatment

A novel way to stop a nearly invincible team.

A Norwegian comedy/sports show called “Golden Goal” came up with a unique was to stop Larvik HK, which has dominated the Norwegian women’s league for several years.  Using Electronic Shock collars the players were subject to shocks at key moments of the match by the show’s host.  Check out the video on Euro 2013 webpage story.

Thanks to Stefan Fatsis and the Hang Up and Listen Podcast for bringing this to my attention.  They have an amusing discussion of the video and potential copy cat possibilities for American sports at the 56:45 minute mark.

Euro 2013 webpage story:  Link (click on CC for English subtitles)

Hang Up and Listen Podcast discussion:  Link

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VIDEO/AUDIO Hamburg vs. Montpellier

Montpellier's now Accambray's team.  Can he lead them into the round of 16?

Montpellier is now Accambray’s team. Can he lead them into the  Champions League Round of 16?

It’s been a tumultuous season for traditional French power, Montpellier.  A betting scandal rocked the side and led to the departure of former icon, Nikola Karabatic.  In disarray, the team has limped through the group stages and now needs to beat Hamburg in Hamburg in the 10th and final round in order to sneak into the Round of 16 as a fourth seed.

Video:  Hamburg vs Montpellier:  Link

I’ve done at audio commentary (see below) for the second half.  You can synch up this MP3 file with the video.

1) Forward the video to exactly 44:10 and then pause the video player.
2) Open the pop up player for the audio and wait for the synchronization count.
3) Unpause the video as the count starts

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VIDEO: Online Web Streaming for the 2013 Men’s World Handball Championships

Livesport2

 

 

Spain and Algeria will open the Men’s World Championships, on Friday, 11 January at 7:00 PM Central European Time (1.:00 PM U.S. East Coast).  All of the matches will be available live via the Livesport.TV platform.

For more information click here:  Livesport.TV

Editor’s note:  I’ve been informed that the “On Demand” Full Match viewing option will not be available until the quarter finals.

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VIDEO: 2 HBL Showdowns this weekend

Hamburg vs. Kiel this Saturday

The Champions League is on hiatus until mid November, but LAOLA1.TV is stepping into the void with two great matches in the German Handball Bundesliga (HBL) this weekend.  On Saturday, Hamburg hosts Kiel and on Sunday, Flensburg hosts Berlin. It’s early in the season and all 4 teams are bunched near the top of the HBL table.

Thanks to Berlin’s draw with them earlier this season Kiel no longer has their winning streak, but they’ve still got an “unbeaten” streak.  Hamburg has been decimated by injuries and will probably need some help from the “8th man” home crowd to knock off the defending champions.

Flensburg has stumbled a little bit in the early going and is currently in 6th place.  If they want to return to the Champions League next year, they’ll want to win this key home clash against 2nd place and unbeaten Berlin.  Both matches will be available live for viewing at LAOLA1.TV and one of these matches will surely be posted later as the “Match of the Week” for on demand viewing.

Saturday, 27 October 2012
Hamburg vs. Kiel  3:00 PM (CET)/9:00 AM (U.S. East Coast) Live Video Link

Sunday, 28 October 2012
Flensburg vs. Berlin 5:30 PM (CET) / 11:30 AM (U.S. East Coast) Live Video Link

 

 

 

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Why weren’t the U.S. National Teams at the London Olympics?: Part 6: A lack of awareness and marketing: The Catch 22 TV paradox

Unfortunately, with very few exceptions this has been the Team Handball TV viewing option for Americans outside of the Olympic Games.

In Part 5, I highlighted just how few fans of Team Handball there are and how instrumental TV broadcasts could be in turning that around.  In this part I address the old Catch 22 paradox that has been largely responsible for keeping the sport off U.S. TV sets for years.  (Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3) (Part 4)

As I reflected upon in the last installment, there is nothing more effective in tearing down the basic “awareness” problem in the U.S. than TV broadcasts of the sport.  The Olympics demonstrated that powerfully, but as the Olympics fades from memory, so unfortunately does Team Handball from the sports consciousness of Americans.  The obvious solution is to continue broadcasting Team Handball matches on TV outside of the Olympics, but standing in the way is the old “Catch 22” TV paradox:

Team Handball will be more popular if it is shown on TV more.  TV Networks will show more Team Handball on TV, but only if it becomes more popular.

Yes, unfortunately TV networks have decided they don’t much want to broadcast Team Handball on TV because it doesn’t have a built in audience ready to watch it.  And therefore, USA Team Handball can’t use TV to build up that audience.  Arggh!

But, is this truly a Catch 22? Or, are there ways to get around it?  Yes, there are and some other sports have found ways to out maneuver the Catch 22.  Basically, there are three ways to go about it:

1) A sport can get more popular first without the benefit of TV
2) A sport can convince a TV Network that it’s in their interest to get in on the ground floor and help further develop its growth
3) A sport can make broadcasts extremely cheap or even pay the TV Networks to show content

Here’s some top level analysis of these 3 solutions and why they haven’t been applied very successfully for Team Handball.

Getting more popular first without TV

As older Americans well know, 30-40 years ago soccer was shown on TV just about as often as Team Handball was.  In other words, it was pretty much never broadcast with perhaps the exception of the short lived glory years of the NASL and a quirky highlight show on Public TV called “Soccer Made in Germany.”  We all know that that is no longer true as pretty much every major soccer match played in Europe is now shown in the U.S. on some channel.  And it’s pretty clear that this increased TV exposure is directly related to increased interest from the public.  More people want to watch soccer, so the TV networks have responded.  And soccer isn’t the only example of this.  On a smaller scale lacrosse TV broadcasts have increased, but pretty much only as a result of its overall growth in the U.S. creating a growing audience.

So, if soccer and lacrosse can get more popular without TV, the USA Team Handball community should quit whining about no TV broadcasts and mimic what soccer and lacrosse have done.  Right?  Well, I suppose in theory one can make this argument, but it ignores just how deep a hole Team Handball is starting out in.  The soccer analogy is appealing, but as I wrote in this article several years ago, even a farm kid in Iowa growing up in the 70s and 80s knew that soccer and lacrosse existed.  And these sports had firmly established hotbeds in different regions of the country and were established NCAA sports.  In theory, it’s possible that we could copy the paths of these sports, but it has been (and would be) tough to match their success.  Not to mention the fact is it would likely take decades to get the growth needed.

Convincing a TV Network to get in on the ground floor and help out

It’s not definitive that TV networks will only broadcasts sports that have a large built in audience.  At different times networks have decided to give a little push and promote a less popular sport in the hopes that it will have a breakout hit.  Probably, the most prominent example was ESPN’s promotion of “extreme” sports through the creation of the X Games in the 1990s.  Sure, there were a lot of kids already skateboarding and snowboarding, but the organization of these events into sports was lacking.  As this article describes, the X Games were actually an internal ESPN idea which then had to seek out help from a pretty much non-existent sport structure to stage all these activities in a competition format.   And the rest is history.  A non-existent TV audience was immediately created and many of these sports have even found their way into the Olympics.

But, this success story was for individual, artistic sports.  What about a team sport example?  Staring Team Handball right in the face is the ongoing promotion of Rugby 7s by NBC. In a two part series (Part 1, Part 2), written in 2011, I highlighted the tremendous promotion the sport of Rugby is getting with NBC’s decision to broadcast the International World Series competition and now a collegiate competition.  It’s so easy to imagine how something like this would be an incredible boost to Team Handball.

And while Rugby does have a significantly larger following than Team Handball in the U.S. the sport hasn’t developed a large enough audience to support broadcasts.  No, NBC’s decision to devote significant resources to support and promote the sport is based on growth opportunities and in particular, the possibility of giving American football fans something to watch in the spring after the NFL season is over.

It’s also worth noting, that according to this interview with NBC Executive, Jon Miller, NBC contacted USA Sevens first to express interest in broadcasting the tournament.  In terms of convincing, it’s always easier to sell someone who’s already interested, vice cold calling.  The good news is that Mr. Miller and others at NBC know what Team Handball is, so maybe convincing them with still a little Olympics buzz around might yet be possible.

Make your TV broadcasts really cheap and/or pay for access

But, if you can’t convince the TV networks to help you promote your sport, you can always give them the TV rights for a reduced price or for free.  And, if they won’t take free you can really bite the bullet and actually pay them to broadcast your sport.  Ouch.   Really, we’ve got to pay networks to put on such a great product?  How can this be when there’s so much junk being shown on these networks.  Case in point, take a look at the fine viewing options that were available to American viewer at the same time the European Championship final was being played in January.  Why is this so?

Well, the reality is that free isn’t actually free when it comes to TV broadcasts.  In addition to the “rights” to broadcast, there are costs associated with production and distribution.  All those cameramen, cameras, sound crews and commentators aren’t free.  (Well, you can get commentators for free sometimes (like me), but then you’re really reducing your overall production quality.)

And then once you have the packaged product it has to find its way from the arena to the airwaves.  This isn’t free either and can cost several thousand dollars depending on the type of transmission.  Reportedly, when ESPN provided a webstream broadcast of the 2009 Men’s World Championship, the U.S. Federation reportedly had to pay $1,500/match for the satellite uplinks.  And that was for a live webstream, its surely more expensive for a broadcast like the Poland-Germany match a couple years ago.

The other little secret is that when a network fills airtime with repeats of fishing and hunting shows the reality is that the people that produce those shows actually pay to put them on TV.  They are for all practical purposes infomercials.  And while networks may prefer to show more traditional sports content that would probably draw a larger audience they are for the most part quite content to fill airtime and get a little money on the side.

Promotion is so important, however, that sports federations have often swallowed their pride and indeed paid to get their sport on TV.  It’s not an easy decision, particular for marginal sports like Team Handball.  Money to get on TV could also be spent in so many other ways.  It could pay for a team trip to Europe or help start a new club.  But, the counter argument is that maybe showing your national championship on TV will result in more players and fans.  Which could lead to finding better players and better sponsorship.  And, maybe, just maybe you could strike gold with some TV Exec seeing the light and deciding to produce and show the championship next year.

New distribution paths:  An end to the TV Catch 22?

There are, however, new developments with TV webstreaming that could very well throw the old TV Catch 22 out the window.  Heck, some would argue that the availability and quality of webstreaming already has.  If you’ve checked out the quality of the Champions League efhTV broadcasts this year, you know what I’m talking about.  Distribution via webstreaming is also cheaper and provides a path around the TV network gatekeepers.

As I write this in October of 2012, however, it’s too early to write off TV’s future.   I may be happy watching webstreams, but I’m a super fan.  To solve the awareness problem the sport needs to still be on traditional networks where new fans will be created.  Maybe someday, we can ignore the gatekeepers, but unless there’s an Apple iTV “earthquake” in the near future we’re probably stuck with the old TV Catch 22 for a while.  Where’s Steve Jobs when you need him?

So, to increase the sports awareness in the U.S. we need to convince TV networks to help promote the sport.  Or, we can simply pay the networks or make it easily extremely cheap for them to show the sport on TV.  How can a cash-strapped U.S. Federation make that happen?  The answer is a little assistance from European handball entities, who would also benefit greatly from turning the U.S. into a handball nation.  In Part 7 I’ll address why this hasn’t happened in the past, but why it’s starting to happen now.

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VIDEO: EHF Champions League (Week 1): Madrid vs. Kiel

Goalkeeper Thierry Omeyer will guard the net for Kiel in Sunday’s clash vs Madrid

The EHF Champions League season is underway and the first game of the week is a rematch of last year’s final as the defending champion’s Kiel travel to Spain to take on runner’s up, Madrid.  Last year Kiel defeated Madrid, 26-21 in the final, but only a few weeks ago Madrid got revenge with their defeat 28-23 defeat of Kiel at the IHF Super Globe event in Qatar.  It’s only week 1 of Group Play, but don’t be surprised if the result of Sunday’s match and Madrid’s later visit to Kiel will be the only 2 matches that matter when it comes time to determine who wins Group B.  The oddsmakers expect a close match with neither side favored.

30 Sep (1800 CET; 1200 U.S. East Coast)
Madrid vs. Kiel Live Link

The match will have English commentary from Tom  Ó Brannagáin and will be available live and on-demand.  Here’s Ó Brannagáin’s blog writeup: Link

All the matches of the Champions League are available here:  Link

Note:   The EHF has modified their efhTV website to now include scores and standings.  Some folks might find this a great addition, but if you’re like me and don’t want to know the outcome of the matches before you watch them, you’ll want to immediately scroll down to the bottom of the page to avoid seeing this information.  Then you can slowly inch your way up to the video links.  The offending information is at the top of the page, just above the Group A video links.   As an aside, Christer has informed me that I am the only one in the world that does this.  Well, I’d like to think that there are a few others.  Perhaps 7 of us in total; or if you prefer, 1 in a billion.  Yes, even more rare than 1 in a million.

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VIDEO WEBSTREAMING: Berlin vs. Kiel: Can Berlin end Kiel’s 40 game winning streak?

Can Sven Soren Christophersen and the Foxes end Kiel’s run?

Courtesy of LAOLA1.TV, Team Handball fans in many parts of the world will have the opportunity to watch Berlin host Kiel in a key early season German Handball Bundesliga (HBL) class.  It may be only mid-September, but if last season is any indication of this season Berlin needs a win here if they have any hope of challenging the defending champions.  That’s because last season Kiel ran the table, going a perfect 34-0-0 in the HBL

In fact, Kiel hasn’t lost a game in the HBL since a 4 May, 2011, 30-24 loss at Magdeburg; a total of 40 consecutive victories.  Sure, they’ve got the best team, but it’s still a remarkable feat in a league which is pretty competitive from top to bottom.  If Kiel doesn’t bring its “A” game when they travel on the road, probably about 14 of the other 17 teams in the league are more than capable of sending them home with a loss or a draw.

Can current league leaders, Berlin, end the streak?  On Sunday we’ll find out.

Berlin vs. Kiel, Sunday, 16 September (17:30 Central European Time, 11:30 USA Eastern Time)
(Kiel is a 3 goal handicap favorite)

LAOLA1.TV webstream: Link

NOTE:  HBL matches at LAOLA1.TV are unfortunately not available “on demand.”  If you want to see this match, you’ll need to watch it live.