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Streaming geo-blocking restrictions lifted as FIH makes programming commitment

FIH Women's Pro League match between New Zealand and Argentina on February 28, 2020 in Christchurch (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

The Fédération Internationale de Hockey (FIH), hockey’s world governing body, has opted to remove any geo-blocking restrictions on full re-runs of FIH Hockey Pro League matches played in 2019 and 2020.

Matches have previously been geo-blocked in markets where the broadcast rights had been sold.

The move by the FIH is the latest from an international rights-holder looking to engage with its fan base after the global Covid-19 pandemic led to the postponement of its competitions.

Matches on the FIH.live website, which is operated by MyCujoo under the federation’s long-term agreement with the streaming platform, can be watched free of charge.

Olympic qualifying matches played in October and November 2019 will also be offered without any geo-blocking restrictions, while all matches from both the men’s and women’s 2018 World Cups are already available.

Thierry Weil, the FIH chief executive, said: “As hockey fans and players around the world are staying at home to help the fight against Covid-19, FIH has decided to strengthen its engagement with them by bringing the best of hockey to their households.”

The FIH, which has sold its international media rights in-house since 2017, is also producing various additional programmes for distribution among its 32 rights-holding broadcasters spanning 192 countries around the world.

These will include a 26-minute Pro League Season So Far programme featuring content from the 2020 campaign, which has been postponed to at least May 17. A 26-minute programme on the 2019 Pro League season will also be offered, as will a programme of the same length featuring classic matches from the competition.

Further content to be available to rights-holding broadcasters will include 52-minute review programmes from the men’s and women’s 2018 World Cups.

The FIH said that the five programmes will also be available over the next couple of weeks on its social media platforms.

The move by the Lausanne-based international federation is similar to that of Fifa, which has decided to show full re-runs of classic World Cup matches on social media and distribute free archive content to its rights-holding broadcasters.

The FIH distributes its broadcast rights globally with the exception of the Indian subcontinent, where pay-television broadcaster Star India holds the rights. Star had acquired the global rights, excluding Argentina, from 2015 to 2022 in a deal worth an estimated $250m (€227m) but the agreement was cancelled in 2017.

A deal with MyCujoo, which made its name in streaming lower-tier football matches, was announced at the start of 2019 and led to the creation of the FIH.live platform. MyCujoo provided its technology for no cost but shares revenues with the FIH.

Before teaming up with MyCujoo, the FIH streamed matches from the Hockey World League Finals on YouTube in ‘dark markets’.