Sorting out Handball on TV (Broadcast Rights and Coverage)

The addition of several broadcasts of Champions League on Eurosport 2 is only good news if you have access to Eurosport 2. Living in France one would think this would be a simple matter of calling your cable company to add that channel to your contract. Unfortunately, my current provider, Noos, doesn’t have Eurosport 2 as an option. Oh well, I thought, it’s just a simple matter of switching to another provider. A bit of a hassle, but probably worth it. But then, I discovered that there is no provider in France that offers both Sport Plus (which has the rights for the French club games in the Champions league) and Eurosport 2. So, instead I would have to pay for an entirely new setup in order to receive only 1 more channel. Argggh!

While doing this research, I also found out some interesting facts about Handball on TV in the world, such as:

1) The EHF (or the IHF) often sells the TV rights to an event to a media company. For instance, the EHF sold the European Championships for National Teams to Infront sports. Infront sports then sells the rights piecemeal throughout the world, usually on a country by country basis. These rights also include internet broadcasts and this unfortunately makes it less likely that there will be free internet broadcasts. The EHF might have a long term market broadening interest to promote the sport, but Infront, as the middleman, will simply try and squeeze as much revenue out of the TV rights as possible.

2) Internet broadcast rights can be regionalized and this is already being done for other sports like rugby that are also available on local television markets. The idea being that the local television market doesn’t want internet competition. I would argue, however, that the difference in video quality is so great that very few people won’t shell out the money for TV if it’s available. Hopefully, if concerns about the internet siphoning off too many viewers becomes too great the EHF will regionalize their internet broadcasts to places like the United States where matches are not available on TV.

3) As best I can tell the TV rights for the Champions League are being sold directly by the EHF and are probably a complex hodge-podge of contracts. Each country has their own TV networks, varying fan interest, and varying ability to pay. For instance, fan interest is probably pretty high in Eastern Europe, but the market price there is probably lower than it is in some Western Europe countries with a higher standard of living. This has got to be an incredible headache for the EHF marketing staff. There are certainly some economies of scale when you consider that leagues like the NFL can sell one contract for 300 Million people in the US.

4) Handball is available on TV in more places in the world then you might think. Courtesy of Canal Satellite, Handball is broadcast to French territories and French speaking regions in the Caribbean, Africa and the South Pacific. For instance, as parts of North America are within the Caribbean satellite footprint, in theory, those signals would be available to anyone with a contract with Canalsat. You would probably need to pretend to be ordering from one of the countries listed on the website., but it could probably be done. It wouldn’t surprise me if some French expats in Florida have actually done so. Perhaps the same thing could also be done in Australia for the New Caledonia feed. And best that I can tell, the English language broadcasts on Eurosport 2 can also be picked up by anyone in Europe with a sky satellite contract and the appropriate sports package.