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ISU unveils YouTube streaming plans aimed at dark markets

The International Skating Union (ISU) will stream live coverage of its events on its official YouTube channel from the start of the 2019-20 campaign.

More than 110 competition days will be streamed, with geo-restrictions applying in markets where media rights deals are already in place.

The ISU will publish a ‘where to watch’ news update with details of the geo-blocked territories ahead of each series or event. The update will be included on the regular ISU newsletter.

The events that will be available on the Skating ISU YouTube channel include the ISU Championships, Grand Prix of Figure Skating, World Cup Speed Skating and World Cup Short Track Series.

The 2019-20 season gets underway this week with the start of the Grand Prix of Figure Skating series in Las Vegas.

The ISU said that the goal is “to increase accessibility and visibility of ISU sports worldwide, particularly in markets where there is no broadcaster”.

The governing body has been keen to explore ways of promoting events that are unlikely to receive coverage on linear channels.

In February, the Infront agency acquired the ISU’s global media rights in a four-season deal from 2019-20 to 2022-23. The deal excludes the US, Canada, China, Japan and Korea, where the ISU continues to sell rights on a market-by-market basis.

In agreeing the deal, Infront dislodged the European Broadcasting Union, which had held the rights for the same territories from 2015-16 to 2018-19.

As reported by SportBusiness Media at the time, the ISU’s insistence on being able to exploit rights to selected events on its own digital platforms proved to be critical, with the EBU having refused to agree to the request.