International Handball Federation defends beIN rights deal

The International Handball Federation has moved to defend its partnership with beIN Media Group, the global rights distribution partner for showpiece national team tournament the World Championship, amid criticism of the deal in German media outlets.

In a lengthy statement issued today (Tuesday), the IHF said it sought to address reports concerning the ongoing 2017 Men’s World Championship in France, which is without live television coverage in Germany, home of the reigning European champions.

German banking group Deutsche Kreditbank (DKB), a major sponsor of handball in its home country, this month acquired rights to the World Championship, averting a broadcast blackout in Germany, and is live streaming games online.

The IHF said: “The TV cooperation between IHF and beIN Sports has been presented by the media as a deal concluded on grounds of alleged personal, in particular financial interests. The media coverage is accompanied by partly unacceptable, reputation-damaging allegations which are completely unfounded. Some media failed to find out actual facts and to consult the IHF or beIN Sports, i.e. their coverage lacked research and profound knowledge.”

BeIN holds a contract for the global media rights to the men’s and women’s World Championships of 2015 and 2017. The IHF cited geoblocking regulations in Germany as a crucial point behind the long-running dissatisfaction in the country over the presentation of the handball showpieces.

The federation said: “The contract contains the right of beIN Sports to sell the TV rights worldwide in the different countries. Therefore, beIN Sports requests geoblocking in all major markets in order to sell the rights to each country individually. If a TV station transfers the signal to several countries, the value of the rights is substantially decreased; for instance if the German TV signal is receivable in Spain, it might be the case that Spain will not buy the TV rights. Therefore it is in the interest of beIN Sports to protect the individual markets.”

The statement continued: “Broadcasters from the so-called big handball nations such as TVP (Poland), DR (Denmark) & TV2 (Norway) are able to sufficiently protect their broadcast signal in a way which protects the interest of other rights holders. It should also be confirmed that German national broadcasters had every opportunity to acquire the rights based on a simple solution to alter their satellite transmission to minimise overspill.”

The IHF has also sought to defend the agreement with beIN by pointing to the value it provides to the federation and the sport of handball as a whole.

The federation added: “BeIN Sports was unanimously awarded with the rights by the IHF Council members, excluding the president who as usual abstained from voting. The decision was based on the one hand on the large difference in the licence fees, and on the other hand on the increase of the production budget by 50 per cent which allows the further development of the product Handball World Championships.

“BeIN Sports also offered to provide underdeveloped and emerging nations with the TV signal free of charge in order to develop handball in those countries, which beIN Sports has successfully fulfilled so far. Furthermore, beIN Sports had submitted by far the highest offer among all bidders (42.85 per cent higher than the second best offer).”