CEV follows up Infront deal with long-term IMG Arena agreement

The Confédération Européenne de Volleyball (CEV), the sport’s governing body in Europe, has announced its second high-profile rights agreement in as many weeks in a long-term betting streaming and data rights deal with IMG Arena.

The betting arm of the IMG agency has completed a rights deal for events across volleyball, beach volleyball and snow volleyball to boost its offering to its bookmaker clients.

Advisers Media International, the independent sports rights distribution company, brokered the agreement on behalf of the CEV and has retained all betting category sponsorship rights for all CEV events.

At its recent extraordinary general assembly in Vienna, the CEV ratified a 12-year global media-rights and production agreement with the Infront agency. That deal is understood to be worth €106m ($116.8m) in rights fees, production spend and services.

Volleyball’s flagship men’s and women’s EuroVolley tournaments and the CEV Champions League, the premier clubs competition, will both form part of the betting tie-up with IMG Arena.

Commenting on the addition of the rights, Freddie Longe, executive vice-president and managing director of IMG Arena, said: “Operator feedback tells us volleyball is a property that has much untapped potential and one which the industry feels will benefit from an improved sports betting solution. Our move into the sport will allow us to significantly enhance the betting interface and boost engagement with its community of passionate fans.”

Aleksandar Boričić, the CEV president, said that partnering with IMG Arena to distribute its sports betting live streaming and betting data rights is an important strategic development for the continental federation.

IMG is a long-stranding client of the FIVB, volleyball’s international federation. The agency behemoth currently sells worldwide broadcast rights to the FIVB Volleyball Club World Championships and the FIVB Volleyball Nations League. In 2018, IMG also worked with the Lausanne-based international federation to set up its OTT streaming platform.

Sportradar, the sports data and content agency, is the incumbent betting streaming rights-holder to CEV competitions. The agency also commercialises the media rights to the CEV club competitions but will be replaced by Infront from the 2020-21 season onwards as part of the Zug-based agency’s long-term contract.

The CEV competitions will add content to an IMG Arena service that already includes the likes of tennis’ ATP Tour, golf’s European Tour and PGA Tour, the Ultimate Fighting Championship and football’s FA Cup and Serie A.

Infront is to sell the media rights to the CEV’s club and national team competitions from 2020 to 2032 under the terms of the new agreement.

According to details understood to have been presented to attendees at the CEV general assembly, the €106m is broken down as follows: €70m in cash payments; €27m in production and digital value-in-kind services; and €9m ascribed to the Infront volleyball team cost and coverage. There is an equal profit-share system in place after each two-season cycle if pre-defined targets are met.

Along with EuroVolley and the CEV Champions League, the continental federation’s portfolio of national team properties also includes the European Beach Volleyball Championship, the European Volleyball Leagues and Olympic qualification tournaments. The club competitions also include the CEV Cup and CEV Challenge Cup. The Snow Volleyball European Championship is the headline event in a discipline launched by the CEV and FIVB in 2016.

In 2007, the CEV originally secured a rights distribution deal with the Sportsman Media Group, the agency subsequently acquired by Sportradar in 2016. In October 2019, Sportradar was appointed by the CEV to sell the media rights for the European qualifying competitions for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Sportradar also supported the launch of the confederation’s EuroVolley.tv OTT streaming platform in 2018.