Eurovision Sport, the sports arm of the European Broadcasting Union consortium of free-to-air broadcasters, has negotiated agreements with rights-holders to allow its member broadcasters to air archive footage of high-profile sports events.
The Geneva-based body has held discussions with the federations and promoters with whom it holds agreements to enable its members to offer archive content from events such as football’s Fifa World Cup, cycling’s Tour de France and the World and European Athletics Championships.
Broadcasters continue to scramble for archive content amidst the global shutdown of live sports events caused by the ongoing spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Eurovision Sport said: “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.”
Fifa recently made moves to allow its broadcast rights-holders free access to archive rights to help them fill their schedules given the scarcity of live sport on offer.
Eurovision Sport last month announced the extension of its Tour de France and Vuelta a España rights in a new agreement with rights-holder ASO. Eurovision Sport also holds to the World Athletics Championships until 2023 and its European Athletics agreement runs until 2027.
Additionally, Eurovision Sport holds broadcast rights deals with the International Paralympic Committee, the 2022 European Championships in Munich, cycling’s UCI and UEC, swimming’s Fina and LEN, World Rowing, canoeing’s ICF, United World Wrestling, gymnastics’ UEG and skiing’s FIS, Ski Austria, and Swiss Ski. A renewed agreement was also recently signed with the International Biathlon Union.
Stefan Kürten, the outgoing executive director of sport at the European Broadcasting Union, 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.”
EBU member broadcasters across Europe have reacted to the slew of cancelled and postponed sports events with a mix of archive content, discussion programmes and coverage of virtual sports events.
Italian public-service broadcaster Rai moved to counter the content by launching a dedicated free-to-air archive-content channel, Raisport Classic. The channel is focused on Italian sport and chiefly football, athletics, basketball, cycling, skiing and volleyball.
In Switzerland, public broadcaster SRG SSR has agreed a three-year deal to show a virtual online version of road cycling’s Tour de Suisse. Tour de Suisse, team-owned cycling promoter Velon and virtual cycling platform Rouvy have created the Digital Swiss 5, which will consist of five one-hour races taking place between April 22 and 26.
UK public broadcaster the BBC has replaced Match of the Day, its Saturday-evening Premier League highlights programme, with TV podcasts featuring presenters and pundits from the show, including former England footballer Gary Lineker.