Marketing Muscle

Executives from the Lagardere sports agency reveal how they will be creating a Texas feel to the World Weightlifting Championships in its broadcasting production and distribution around the world.

One of the biggest challenges for television rights distributor Lagardere – which took on the IWF World Championships as a client for the first time this year – was securing a host broadcaster. The event has previously excelled in terms of viewership figures in China, eastern Europe and the Middle East, according to Adam Schneider – programme manager for Lagadere’s media and events – and has not been hosted in the United States for almost 40 years.

“It’s important to secure a good host broadcaster for events like this, and Houston 2015 will have two. The first being ESPN3, which will be broadcasting full coverage of the event, and secondly, beIN Sports will be broadcasting our daily highlights show, which are a series of nine one-hour programmes,” he told SportBusiness International.

In addition to all the top A group competition sessions being broadcast by online subscription-based streaming channel ESPN3, many of the B and C groups will also be available live and on-demand creating a total of around 60 hours of coverage.

“At this point we’re pretty happy with the way things are going. Based on what we’ve been told about the history of the World Championships, we’re looking at unprecedented coverage of the event worldwide, both in terms of distribution and revenue,” added Schneider.

Full Coverage

Lagardere has been working closely with LOC, Harris County-Houston Sports Authority, in creating an Americana theme to the event, which includes entertainment shows such as guest speakers and music during the regular breaks in the competition.

“It is a challenge for any LOC to turn the World Weightlifting Championships into more of an entertainment show for the general sports fan at the event and at home. I think that’s been a big priority for [LOC CEO] Janis Burke and her team,” said Schneider.

“With ESPN especially, this entertainment aspect was a big point. This is a new event for them to take on, and there had to be a sense that this would be something different to what it has previously been. Not because previous editions were bad, but because it just gave them a reason to get in on it now.

It’s important to secure a good host broadcaster for events like this

“However, it is important to us that we demonstrate that flair on our broadcasts while also keeping the integrity of the competition itself. Many of our broadcast partners around the world – Eurosport, for example – have seen this event for years, so we have to keep a balance between the different feel of this edition to the structure of the show that people are familiar with.”

Another reason why Houston Sports is integrating entertainment into the sports programme is so that it can market the city to the world to drive tourism. This includes the LOC, IWF and Lagardere working together to compile previous World Championship clips and newly-produced video content for social media and television commercials to be aired in the weeks leading up to the event.

“One of the reasons that Houston took on this event is because it has worldwide exposure potential. We’re already in 180 countries and 700 million homes for the live product of all the A groups and a lot of the B groups,” Dennis Spencer, Lagardere’s executive vice-president of media, told SportBusiness International.

“At this point, we pretty much have full-blanket coverage of worldwide broadcasts. With our partnerships with beIN, Eurosport and ESPN among others, we’ve got coverage in every major region and we are on course to fill in the blanks by the time the event takes place,” added Schneider.

Time Difference

Another major challenge for Lagardere when taking on this property was the time difference between weightlifting’s popular regions – China, Europe and the Middle East – to the US, in terms of when the broadcasts should be aired.

“It’s been a challenge to put together a schedule that accommodates both local and international audiences as much as possible, and we’ve been pleasantly surprised that all of our partners have been receptive to the event even though it’s happening quite late at night in a lot of those regions,” said Schneider.

“The top lifters are scheduled to compete around 3pm and 5:30pm central time. That’s about as early as we wanted to put on an A group in the US, so we can still get fans on seats as well as hitting Europe at a time that made sense to them.”

“The Championships take place in the Thanksgiving holiday week, so of the nine days the competition seven of them can be considered a weekend day by many people in the US, which makes the time difference less critical,” added Spencer.


To continue reading the Event Focus on the IWF World Weightlifting Championships, please click the links below:

1. Raising the Bar: Elisha Chauhan speaks to the key stakeholders of the 2015 IWF (International Weightlifting Federation) World Weightlifting Championships to find out how host city Houston plans to turn one of the original Olympic sports into a modern day spectacle.

2. Pulling Position: Elisha Chauhan spoke to a rights-holder and a sponsor about the commercial attractiveness of the IWF World Weightlifting Championships.

3. Power Struggle: European Weightlifting Federation (EWF) president Antonio Urso flexes his political muscles, following his fallout with the sport’s international governance.

4. Pumping Iron: President Tamas Ajan speaks about the growth of his IWF (International Weightlifting Federation) World Championships, as well as his crackdown on the sport’s biggest setback, doping.

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