Team Handball Video on the Internet: Fee Based vs. Advertising Supported

Video on the internet is still in its infancy. Any Handball addict who’s strained his eyes to watch a match on his computer monitor can certainly attest to that fact. While I certainly would prefer a high quality signal straight to my TV this can’t be done yet for a combination of technical and cost/delivery issues. For handball fans in many parts of the world where virtually no TV broadcasts are available, however, internet broadcasts have been a godsend, allowing them to stay connected to the Handball world beyond written media and snail-mailed videotapes.

Aside from the technical challenges that need to be solved, there is also an ongoing debate of how this new media format will best work economically. Essentially, two different models are being experimented with: Fee Based and Advertiser Supported.

Mainstream TV shows have for the most part chosen the fee based model. Shows like Desperate Housewives and Lost can be downloaded for a $1.99 via ITunes . And downloaded they are in large and increasingly profitable numbers.

Sports programming, however, has been more split between the two economic models. This USA Today article highlights how more sports are going on the internet for a fee, but that the advertising model has worked well for the NCAA Basketball Tournament and the World Cup. I personally experienced this advertising model for the NCAA tournament. As I recall, the game was shown through a pop up browser with Marriot Hotels written on the side of the screen. This blog on Internet TV highlights how CBS took in $4.2 Million in advertising revenue using this model:
This article from the Sunday Times,,2103-1714494,00.html
in the UK highlights how Badminton (yes, badminton) is considering a totally dedicated channel to support the demand for content.

Here are some websites that provide video content:
Setanta: (Used previously by the IHF)
College Sports TV:

In terms of Handball, both models are in use. Case in point: the two previous news articles on the IHF Women’s Youth Championships and the EHF Men’s Under 20 Championships. For the IHF matches they are charging $4.95 a match and for the EHF matches you are forced to watch a 30 second Samsung commercial prior to entering the live feed.

My Opinion: A fee based system is only sustainable if the picture quality can be improved upon. I can see fans world-wide paying for top matches they can’t get any other way. I know that if I could get a decent picture and didn’t have access to TV broadcasts, I’d be willing to pay for European Championships, World Championships and Champions League Handball matches. With the current state of the technology, however, fee based, in my opinion, is a tough sell. But probably more important to consider is Team Handball’s critical need to expand beyond its currently limited market share world-wide. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a fee based model will create ZERO new Handball fans. It is simply short-sighted to grab a smattering of revenue now from hard core fans at the expense of the long term revenue that free broadcasts could potentially create with increased interest in the sport world-wide. And as ESPN and CBS have shown, marketing needs aside, advertising supported broadcasts could even be more profitable. It’s worth at least trying!

Closing Thoughts:
EHF- Keep up the good work and thanks for helping to promote Handball world-wide
IHF- It’s time to give advertising supported broadcasts a try. Might I suggest the Men’s World Championships in Germany this January?