On the eve of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships London 2017 (4-13 August), the IAAF has reached a new, multi-year agreement with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and ESPN Media Distribution for the sale and distribution of a broad collection of media rights, including the next three IAAF World Championships and IAAF World Indoor Championships, and more than a dozen other competitions in the IAAF World Athletics Series.
Together, the EBU and ESPN Media Distribution will represent the media rights to IAAF events across Europe and Africa, bringing a unique, combined ability to maximise the profile of athletics and increase access to the sport’s top global competitions to hundreds of millions of fans across the two continents via a combination of free-to-air television, pay television and digital media platforms.
The EBU will represent the free-to-air television rights to its members in numerous countries across Europe, ESPN will represent the IAAF media rights across Africa and the two will collaborate to represent the rights for pay television, digital media and additional free-to-air opportunities across Europe. The two companies also have the ability to leverage the ESPN Player OTT streaming platform to reach Athletics fans.
Athletics is the most popular and global sport of the summer Olympic Games with 200 teams participating in Rio 2016. The core disciplines of athletics are the basis of all human movement and all other sport. Athletics offers beneficial health and lifestyle choices, with millions of people of all ages around the world engaging in some form of athletics, whether just for health and fitness or as a professional competitor.
IAAF CEO Olivier Gers said: “We saw extraordinary crowds in both Kampala and Nairobi for our cross country and U18 championships this year. This new broadcasting agreement with two of the principal players in the broadcasting world will be a step forward in the IAAF’s strategy to engage young people and bring the spectacle of the sport and the amazing athlete stories to the millions of fans across Africa and Europe in the mobile and flexible formats they want. The increased use of streaming, supplementing traditional broadcasts on a variety of platforms, will allow the IAAF’s top events to reach as wide an audience as possible.”
The agreement includes the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar, the 2021 IAAF World Championships in Eugene, USA and the 2023 IAAF World Championships* as well as the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, UK and the 2020* and 2022* IAAF World Indoor Championships. (*hosts yet to be decided).
This is the second collaboration between the EBU and ESPN, having reached agreement last year to work together in representing rights for FINA, the international governing body for aquatic sports.
Charly Classen, Vice President and General Manager, ESPN EMEA, said: “IAAF Athletics is a fantastic, globally relevant sports property with an incredibly exciting opportunity in front of it. Working with the IAAF and EBU we’re very excited to help grow the sport and further broaden the appeal of its competitions, make the most of both traditional and emerging media platforms and help build the next generation of athletics fans.”
The EBU has been working with the IAAF for many years since the inception of the IAAF World Championships in 1983 and has held the exclusive media rights in Europe and Africa for the past four years (2014-2017).
Director of EBU Sport Stefan Kürten said: “We are delighted to be able to continue our partnership with IAAF to bring athletics to the widest possible audience, guaranteeing free-to-air coverage of these premium events in key territories such as Germany, France and Italy. Working with ESPN gives us a unique opportunity to increase the reach and engagement of this popular sport, maximising traditional distribution while embracing the digital consumer.”
It is the latest deal for EBU Sport, on the back of securing the media rights for the Tour de France across Europe until 2023. For ESPN the agreement marks the latest in a series of agreements for its Media Distribution unit, including the joint FINA deal, agreements with Tough Mudder Inc., the NFL (sub-Saharan Africa) and more.
The agreement takes effect from 1 January 2018.