Eurosport close to EHF Champions League rights deal in France

Pan-European broadcaster Eurosport is close to finalising an agreement in France for rights to handball’s EHF Champions League from the 2020-21 season.

The Infront agency, which co-distributes EHF rights with digital media company DAZN Group, proposed a package to Eurosport that combined the EHF club handball rights with FIS Alpine skiing rights, according to L’Équipe.

The Discovery-owned broadcaster has been in final negotiations, although is yet to fully sign off on an agreement, SportBusiness Media understands.

The proposed duration of the deal has not been reported.

Infront has had significant difficulty placing the EHF rights in France. Incumbent beIN Sports, which has held the rights for the past eight seasons, has been put off by the shift to mid-week matches in the men’s competition from next season. It is understood that beIN has been concerned by the scheduling difficulties this creates.

The 2020-21 season is due to start on September 16.

BeIN’s current EHF Champions League contract does not expire until the end of the 2019-20 season. The season has been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic and will resume with the ‘Final Four’ finale taking place in late December.

The ‘Final Four’ is a mini-tournament comprising two semi-final matches, a third-place playoff and the final.

BeIN will continue to show top-level handball in France next season as it holds rights to the French top-tier Starligue for the 2019-23 cycle.

Infront and DAZN are also looking to strike an EHF Champions League rights deal in Germany, another of the sport’s heartlands. Pay-television operator Sky Deutschland, the incumbent rights-holder, recently withdrew its interest in renewing the rights.

The European Handball Federation’s new ten-year international rights contract with Infront and DAZN begins with the 2020-21 EHF club competitions. The agreement, which includes the men’s and women’s EHF Euros (from 2022 to 2030) as well as the EHF club competitions, is worth €500m ($591m) in rights fees alone, with an additional spend on production and services.