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Infront strikes long-term SPFL rights deal with Nent, including Iceland

The Nordic Entertainment (Nent) Group has agreed a five-season deal with the Infront agency for Scottish Professional Football League broadcast rights, extending its coverage to 2024-25, and adding rights in Iceland for the first time.

The deal is for rights to the top-tier Premiership, second-tier Championship and the League Cup. Nent will stream 48 matches live from the Premiership on its over-the-top Viaplay, along with 35 matches combined from the Championship and League Cup.

The rights cover Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and, for the first time, Iceland. Nent launched Viaplay in Iceland in April this year.

Infront holds the SPFL international distribution rights in a five-season deal with the Scottish Professional Football League from 2020-21 to 2024-25. That agreement includes a minimum guarantee, plus revenue share over and above that). Betting streaming rights are not included in the deal and were acquired separately by the rival IMG agency.

The Premiership currently has several players from the Nordics plying their trade in the league, including Norway’s Mohamed Elyounoussi and Kristoffer Ajer (both of whom play at Celtic, Scottish Premiership champions for the last nine seasons); Sweden’s Filip Helander (Rangers) and Melker Hallberg (Hibernian); Finland’s Miko Virtanen (Aberdeen) and Glen Kamara (Rangers); and Iceland’s Ísak Þorvaldsson (St. Mirren).

Nent’s current deal for SPFL rights was originally signed with the now defunct MP & Silva agency, running from 2018-19 to 2020-21. MP & Silva held international rights at the time through two agreements. The league terminated the MP & Silva contract in August 2018, and Infront was named as the SPFL’s international rights distributor in a two-year commission-based agreement, covering 2018-19 and 2019-20.

Infront’s sales process to kick off the new five-year rights cycle has been hampered by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on international broadcasters’ budgets.

This has led to the 2020-21 season kicking off earlier this month without broadcast deals in place in key territories such as the US (where B/R Live held the rights), France (where Canal Plus was the rights-holder), Germany (where DAZN last held the rights) and the Middle East and North Africa (where beIN held the rights).

However, it is understood that Infront has agreed various new international deals and the contracts are in the process of being signed off.

Displaced fans are, however, still able to watch live coverage of their club’s SPFL matches through the international subscription and pay-per-view offerings of different clubs.

Kim Mikkelsen, head of sport at Nent, said: “Scottish football has held a special place in the hearts of Nordic fans for over half a century – from the pioneering Scandinavian signings by Dundee United and Greenock Morton in the 1960s all the way to the rampant finishing that made Henrik Larsson Celtic’s greatest ever overseas player.”

This week, Nent also acquired rights in the Nordics to the Uefa women’s Champions League for the remainder of the 2019-20 season. Nent will broadcast the competitions from the quarter-final stages on Viaplay and its Viasport linear channels, beginning tonight (August 21).

Norwegian star Ada Hegerberg’s Lyon are still in the competition and play German team Bayern Munich on August 22.

(additional reporting by Martin Ross)