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Infront increases its dominance over winter sports with ISU deal

HEERENVEEN, NETHERLANDS - MARCH 13: Artur Was (L) of Poland and Kai Verbij of The Netherlands competes in the mens 500m race during day three of the ISU World Cup Speed Skating Finals held at Thialf Ice Arena on March 13, 2016 in Heerenveen, Netherlands. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

The Infront agency’s acquisition of the International Skating Union’s global media rights is the latest plank in the company’s strategy to dominate the winter sports rights market.

The ISU’s four-season deal with Infront runs from 2019-20 to 2022-23 and is worth about €20m ($22.8m) or €5m per season. It excludes broadcast rights in the US, Canada, China, Japan and Korea. The ISU sells those rights directly on a market-by-market basis.

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Australian commercial broadcaster Seven sealed a deal for free-to-air rights to the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup after outbidding rivals SBS, Nine and Ten.

The EBU is believed to have faced strong competition from commercial broadcasters in some territories but no pan-regional challenger.

Vietnam was the second-last market in which Infront was to agree a deal for the tournament under its mandate covering 26 Asian markets in the eight-year period from 2015 to 2022.

While Mountrigi has made a relatively slim profit on its investment across the 2019-22 cycle, it is expected to earn far more for rights to the 2026 Fifa World Cup, which is to be held across the US, Mexico and Canada.