EBU Sport has been continuing its work to extend the worldwide reach of winter sports through recent trials with Chinese national broadcaster CCTV and two leading digital sports outlets.
These trials explored the appetite for winter sports clips and highlights packages in China and tested various models and platforms for distribution, as part of the EBU's ongoing work bringing winter sports to new territories.
The EBU already has deals in place for live coverage of Biathlon (IBU) and Austrian Skiing (OSV) in both Brazil (Sport TV) and the Asia Pacific region (Eurosport - pan Asia Pacific ex-Japan, China and NZ). These agreements, in countries which are not traditionally known for winter sports, perfectly complement other worldwide partnerships such as in Japan and Korea already covered by extensive winter sport deals including OSV and Swiss-Ski, plus IBU in Korea. The EBU also has an agreement for Swiss-Ski, OSV and IBU in the USA (NBCSN) where, although already a keen market for live ski coverage, Biathlon was a new addition to the portfolio in 2016.
Winter sports remain a relatively unknown genre in China with the first FIS sanctioned world cup level ski events taking place only in 2017. The approach for the trial was three-fold - to gain maximum exposure on news channels for audience share, to create content featuring the 'best of the action' to ensure events are shown as accessible and entertaining (seven minute clips), and to test the market to see if there is a potential media partner looking to promote and air 'live' winter sports in the future.
Clips and highlights came from four selected EBU events in January 2018; FIS Ski world cup, Wengen (SUI), IBU world cup Biathlon Ruhpolding (GER), Laax Open FIS Snowboard world cup, Laax (SUI) and FIS Alpine world cup, Lenzerheide (SUI), with results showing clips on CCTV5 Sports News reaching 2m. A selection of highlights with mandarin voice-over made available on digital sports outlets Tencent VOD and Panda TV, over a period of nineteen days, returned promising results of around 330,000 views. Furthermore, EBU partnered with CCTV 2 Business Channel to create a documentary-style piece on the economic impact of skiing and Swiss Ski resorts, filmed during the Davos World Economic Forum with a prime-time airing reaching 1.5m viewers.
"We are always looking for innovative ways to develop the sports offered by our Federation partners and to increase the profile of winter sports globally." says EBU Director of Sport Stefan Kürten. "Through our worldwide sports rights sales we have seen a healthy appetite in new territories, including those not necessarily anticipated as keen markets for winter sports. Exploring the potential appetite in China is another important area of development with huge audience potential."
"Trials such as this help develop the EBUs content offering and worldwide exploitation of sports rights as well as providing valuable information to our rights holding federations for future development of their sports."