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Discovery seals European handball deals in France and Poland

VELUX EHF Champions League handball match played between FC Barcelona and Aalborg Handbold (Photo by Oscar J. Barroso / AFP7 / Europa Press Sports via Getty Images)

International media group Discovery has finalised a deal for a host of European Handball Federation rights in France and Poland with the Infront agency.

Discovery, which owns the pan-European broadcaster Eurosport, has agreed an exclusive six-season deal, from 2020-21 to 2025-26, in France and Poland for the men’s and women’s EHF Champions League, EHF European League and EHF European Cup.

In Poland, the media group has also acquired rights to the women’s 2020 EHF European Championship, and men’s and women’s European Championships in 2022, 2024, and 2026.

Exclusive rights to the next three editions of the men’s and women’s Beach Handball European Championships are also included in the deals in both countries.

All rights were acquired from Infront. Infront distributes rights as part of its joint deal with the DAZN Group with the EHF.

The pair’s ten-year international rights agreement, from 2020-21, includes the men’s and women’s EHF Euros (from 2022 to 2030) as well as the EHF club competitions, and is worth €500m ($591m) in rights fees alone, with an additional spend on production and services.

Infront was able to sell European Championship rights in 2020 in Poland to Discovery due to its existing individual deal to distribute the global rights to the EHF European Championships from 2014 to 2020.

The deal between Discovery and Infront in France was reported as being close last week.

The EHF Champions League begins today, September 16.

Rights to the EHF club competitions in France have been held by pay-television broadcaster beIN Sports since 2012-13. Its initial deal was set to run until 2016-17 but was extended to 2019-20.

Infront has had significant difficulty placing the EHF rights in France. Incumbent beIN Sports, which has held the rights for the past eight seasons, had been put off by the shift to mid-week matches in the men’s competition from next season. It is understood that beIN had been concerned by the scheduling difficulties this creates.

EHF European Championships – both men’s and women’s – in 2020, 2022, 2024, have been acquired by beIN in France as part of a multi-territory deal, which includes the US, Canada, Turkey, Asia (Thailand, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia) as well as Australia and New Zealand.

BeIN has sublicensed matches involving the national teams at the men’s and women’s European Championships until 2024 to French free-to-air commercial broadcaster TF1.

In Poland, pay-television broadcaster Platforma Canal Plus is the previous rights-holder of EHF club competitions, having signed a one-season deal for 2019-20. It had previously held selected rights from 2015-16 to 2018-19 as part of a sublicensing agreement with sports broadcaster Eleven Sports.

Rights to the 2018 men’s EHF European Championship were acquired by public-service broadcaster TVP.

Infront’s agreement with Discovery follows on from last week’s deal with DAZN for club competition rights in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Spain.

Of those markets in which DAZN is active, Infront sells the rights so there is no conflict of interest.