Canadian broadcast deal struck for swimming’s ISL

The new franchise-based International Swimming League will receive free-to-air exposure in Canada after a rights agreement was struck with CBC Sports, the sports arm of the public broadcaster.

CBC Sports will offer television and digital streaming coverage from the event, beginning with this weekend’s first leg from Indianapolis, Indiana.

Live streams of all seven ISL matches this season will be streamed by CBC Sports on the cbcsports.ca website and via the broadcaster’s official apps.

Coverage from the events will also feature on CBC’s weekly ‘Road to the Olympic Games’ programme.

There will be 13 Canadians competing in the 2019 ISL, including Olympic gold medallist Penny Oleksiak and two-time world champion Kylie Masse.

The agreement in Canada follows a recent two-year agreement with Discovery-owned sports broadcaster Eurosport covering Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. That deal excluded Australia, where commercial broadcaster Seven has secured the rights.

In&OutStories, the Paris-based media rights consultancy launched by former Eurosport executive Arnaud Simon, has been involved in brokering international rights deals for the nascent series.

The seven-match ISL will feature teams from Hungary, Italy, the UK and USA. Following matches in Indianapolis, Naples, Budapest, London and two more US venues, the inaugural competition will come to a close at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino from December 20 to 21.

The new series, which is offering close to $1.5m (€1.35m) in prize money, has been the subject of lengthy legal disputes between the organisers and Fina, swimming’s world body.

The ISL was initially set to launch last year but organisers cancelled the competition after alleging that Fina had threatened to ban any swimmer who took part – a claim denied by swimming’s international federation. Following legal action from ISL and a group of top swimmers, Fina then relented and said in January that swimmers who competed would not face any sanctions, although records would be unverified unless it had approved the event in advance.

In response to the ISL, Fina launched its own Champions Swim Series, an event that was this year broadcast by Eurosport across Europe.