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Eurovision Sport’s ‘Sharing Channel’ launched as members encouraged to contribute content

Eurovision Sport, the sports arm of the European Broadcasting Union consortium of free-to-air broadcasters, has launched its new ‘Sharing Channel’ for EBU member broadcasters devoid of live sports to show during the Covid-19 shutdown.

The Eurovision Sport Sharing Channel allows members to download content free of charge and, in many cases, with the rights already cleared on their behalf.

The launch of the service comes after Eurovision Sport said at the end of March that it had negotiated agreements with rights-holders to allow its member broadcasters to air archive footage of high-profile sports events.

Eurovision Sport said that rights owners are “being encouraged to consider using the channel to gain visibility for their national events, as they come back on stream”. Such events could include esports competitions or other “innovate new formats” that have been created to retain a touchpoint with a sports property’s audience amidst the string of cancellations and postponements.

Detailing the initial offering, Eurovision Sport said: “Content available between 11 and 15 May includes a range of Olympic sports such as cycling (classic stages of the 2011 Tour de France, plus highlights from recent UCI BMX World Championships), athletics (highlights from the 2019 World Championships), swimming (highlights from the inaugural edition of the International Swimming League), canoeing (ICF World Cup highlights) and a variety of sport-themed shows.

“Other themed content includes sports less familiar to the Eurovision Sport portfolio, such as motor sports (FIA Formula Regional International Championship Europe), with touring car racing, women’s sport and extreme and e-Sports strands also in the pipeline, plus a range of other top Olympic sports content, including triathlon, gymnastics and equestrian sport.”

EBU member broadcasters are also being encouraged to contribute to the channel with their own content ideas.

These can include their best two sports documentaries and what Eurovision Sport describes as the broadcasters’ “best and most innovative formats they have used over the past weeks to exploit sports content”.

Eurovision Sport would clear any rights required for the pan-European broadcast of the documentaries.

An editorial board comprising EBU members and officials from Eurovision Sport, Eurovision News and Eurovision Services, the EBU’s media services arm, has been set up to exchange ideas and outline the mid- to long-term programming on the Sharing Channel.

Franck Choquard, head of content and servicing at Eurovision Sport, said: “We hope that this initiative will provoke an exchange of content, ideas and best practice between Members and the sports community that will continue to be of value long after the present crisis has abated.”

Access to the Wochit platform, which allows rights-holding broadcasters and media organisations to access near-live content and create online clips and stories, has been extended to all EBU members. Sports rights owners including the Ligue Européenne de Natation (LEN), aquatics’ European body, and the Austrian Ski Federation (ÖSV) have both recently shared short-form content from their athletes on the platform.

Around 90 per cent of Eurovision Sport staff, which includes the acquisitions, sales, servicing, finance and administration teams, have still been working during the Covid-19 crisis, Stefan Kürten, the outgoing executive director, told SportBusiness during a recent wide-ranging interview.

Work undertaken by the servicing team includes the provision of tailored archive content to members after discussions with federations, plus the co-ordination of plans following various postponements that leave a congested sports calendar in 2021 and 2022.

Eurovision Services itself recently launched a new (paid) offering designed to help broadcasters easily gain access to a satellite feed to help fill their sports schedules during the Covid-19 shutdown.

The WorldFeed+ Sports service builds on Eurovision Services’ established WorldFeed service, which provides international satellite distribution to event organisers, allowing them to offer broadcasters access to their event content free of rights.