PRESS RELEASE published on 31 Mar 2020

Eurovision Sport and EBU Members: Strong and reliable partners in a time of crisis

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Eurovision Sport, EBU Members and international sports federations and rights owners are collaborating to ensure that sport continues to be a focus for social cohesion in the weeks to come, despite the COVID-19 pandemic having forced the cancellation or postponement of major sporting events around the world.

The plans centre around providing engaging and entertaining sports content, such as archive coverage of great sporting moments, discussion programmes and digital coverage of virtual sporting events, as an alternative to Eurovision Sport’s comprehensive slate of live and exclusive international sports coverage.

For example, Eurovision Sport has negotiated with its federation partners to enable EBU Members to gain access to archive footage of top sporting events, including FIFA World Cups, World Athletic s and European Athletics Championships and cycling’s entire Tour de France archive.

Public service media are uniquely placed to reach collaborative agreements with federations and rights-owners on how to continue to serve sports fans, and EBU Members are already finding creative and innovative ways to celebrate sport’s role as a source of strength and inspiration in a time of crisis.

  • In Italy, where the pandemic has struck especially hard, EBU Member Rai has launched Raisport Classic, a daily free-to-air channel distributed via digital-terrestrial platforms and showing archive sports content between the hours of midday and midnight. Focusing on Italian sport, the channel is showing football, athletics, basketball, volleyball, cycling and skiing, among other sports.
  • In the UK, where public-service broadcasters are among a list of government-designated 'key workers', the BBC has replaced its iconic Match of the Day Premier League highlights programme with a series of ‘Top 10’ TV podcasts. In the first two editions, presenter Gary Lineker and his guests debated the greatest captains and greatest goal scorers of the Premier League era from Lineker’s kitchen, with the help of archive clips of the chosen players in action.
  • In Switzerland, EBU Member SSR has responded to the crisis by agreeing a new contract with Cycling Unlimited, organiser of road cycling’s annual Tour de Suisse, to broadcast ‘The Digital Swiss 5’, a virtual online version of the stage race. Under the terms of the three-year agreement, beginning with this year’s edition on 22 to 26 April, a selection of riders from top-tier UCI WorldTour teams, will virtually cycle stages of the tour at home on their intelligent roller trainers, with the course simulation enhanced with live images of the professionals and their performance data, for the benefit of TV viewers.
  • In Sweden, Radiosporten, the public-service radio station, is broadcasting daily short clips of classic moments from Swedish sport, preceded by a quiz. The clips are then being collected together into a new digital archive.

Runar Østmo, Chair of the EBU Sports Committee, said: “At this special and critical time, it is really good to see the initiatives and creativity that both the EBU and each of its Members are delivering to our sports coverage, through storytelling, presentation and innovation. For us, as public-service broadcasters all over Europe, sport is history, tradition and emotions. In this situation – even without live sports – we can still share stories and moments that can be enjoyed over again – while we all stay home and stay safe.”

Stefan Kuerten, Executive Director Eurovision Sport, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting one of the most serious threats to society that most of us will have ever experienced, but these examples show that it is at just such times that the public-service ethic of the EBU and its Members asserts its true and unique value.

“We and our Members are working with our trusted partners to find imaginative ways to continue to serve television viewers, who might be unable to leave their homes because of the crisis, through the power of sport. The EBU-community is, and always will be, there for them and for us all in the bad times as well as the good.”

The Eurovision Sport portfolio was recently augmented by a new, long-term exclusive rights agreement with the International Biathlon Union and extensions of existing rights agreements with road cycling’s Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana.

These agreements complement an existing line-up of partnerships with top sports organisations including: FIFA; UEFA; the International Paralympic Committee; World Athletics; European Athletics; the European Championships Munich 2022; the UCI; FINA; FEI; World Rowing; the International Canoe Federation; United World Wrestling; EWF; the FIS; Ski Austria; SwissSki; the UEC; LEN; and the UEG.

Contact detail

Claire Rainford
Manager of Communications
+41 22 717 2321
rainford@ebu.ch
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