Finnish Ice Hockey Association finds new partner in Discovery

The Finnish Ice Hockey Association, the governing body of the sport in the country, has signed a six-season deal with media group Discovery for the rights to a host of national team matches from 2020-21, it said on Thursday.

Discovery’s deal, which runs from 2020-21 to 2025-26, is for rights to more than 200 matches per year and consists of men’s and women’s national teams as well as all national junior ice hockey games with a Finnish team participating. The deal also includes rights to the Karjala Tournament – the Finnish event in the Euro Hockey Tour – and the Nordic Cup.

The same set of rights are currently held by Finnish public-service broadcaster YLE in a five-season deal, from 2015-16 to 2019-20.

The deal marks a further shift of Finnish winter sports events away from YLE. From 2021-22, the public-service broadcaster will also lose its rights to a package of Fédération Internationale de Ski (Fis) World Cup events and the 2023 and 2025 Alpine and Nordic World Ski Championships.

However, Matti Nurminen, managing director of the Finnish Ice Hockey Association, said, on the annoucement of the Discovery deal, that “all the games that are now available on free channels will continue to be freely available.”

Discovery has said it will broadcast the rights on its free-to-air TV5 channel and OTT service Dplay.

The Finnish Ice Hockey Association was advised on the deal by the Commercial Sports Media agency.

Rights do not include national matches at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship. Commercial and pay-television broadcaster MTV3 holds these rights in a six-year deal, from 2018 to 2023.

This article was updated on June 14th 2019, to reflect the deal runs for six seasons, rather than five as previously published.