Handball fever grips Poland as EHF EURO breaks viewing records

The first major handball highlight of the year was played out in four cities across Poland in January 2016.

The Men’s EHF EURO 2016 attracted not only Europe’s top national teams but also hundreds of thousands of spectators and billions of TV viewers around the world.

1.65 billion tune in as EHF EURO breaks all records

The first major handball highlight of the year was played out in four cities across Poland in January 2016.

The Men’s EHF EURO 2016 attracted not only Europe’s top national teams but also hundreds of thousands of spectators and billions of TV viewers around the world.

Thanks to the hard work and considerable investment by the Polish Handball Federation, the event was to set new standards in the organisation of the EHF’s flagship national team competition, which many organisers will seek to emulate in the future.

The host cities of Krakow, Katowice, Wroclaw and Gdansk went all out to attract fans with fan zones and public viewing in each city centre and offered a warm Polish welcome for those making the trip just before Christmas.

And it paid off too, a real handball fever gripped the country, thanks in no small part to the performance of the Polish team, which finally fell to Croatia in dramatic fashion in the final game of the main round.

A new spectator record was set as 400,622 fans watched the 48 matches of the tournament live, up from the 316,500, who followed the 2014 event in Denmark.

On television too, the EHF EURO was to write history. A cumulative audience of more than 1.65 billion people followed the action on television with the event screened in 175 territories by 75 broadcast partners.

These results made EHF EURO 2016 the most-watched European Championship ever, breaking the previous record set in Serbia at the Men’s EHF EURO 2012.

In terms of broadcast hours, the event also surpassed all expectations with 2,958 hours of coverage aired, a 27 per cent increase on the previous high at Men’s EHF EURO 2014 in Denmark.

The success of the German team in winning the title for the first time since 2004 generated huge interest across the country, 13 million tuning in to public broadcasters ARD for the final against Spain, a market share of 42 per cent.

In other nations too there was widespread interest, especially Poland with a cumulative TV audience of more than 430 million, as well as traditional handball markets such as Denmark, where games shown on TV2 involving the Danish team attracted a market share of almost 70 per cent.

Top marks for Polish federation

Commenting on the success of the event in Poland, the EHF President at the time of the championship, Jean Brihault, said: “EHF EURO 2016 has been the biggest and the best EHF EURO event to date.

The Polish hosts invested a huge amount into the event – not just in financial terms, but also with human resources and passion for the event – and we can see this reflected not just in the record number of fans following the event live in Poland but also in the exceptional media figures.”

Andrzej Kraśnicki, President of the Polish Handball Federation and the Polish Olympic Committee, said: “EHF EURO 2016 was a big success for Poland, for our sport and handball. We worked with fantastic people and had a fantastic time. We want to thank all stakeholders including volunteers. We have one winner and the winner was handball.”

Stephan Herth, Executive Director Summer Sports of Infront Sports & Media, said: “Working with the EHF for more than two decades now, we have continuously established new records together – with this Men’s EHF EURO being the most recent example. The cumulative audience of 1.65 billion exceeds the previous record in 2012 by 12 per cent. It was fascinating to see, not only how handball fever spread across Europe, but also how fans engaged with the content provided – eager to immerse themselves in the tournament.”

EHF EURO continues to attract top international brands

Benefiting from the increased media reach were the event’s official sponsors including AJ (office furniture, materials handling and storage solutions), BAUHAUS (do-it-yourself store, house and garden specialist), engelbert strauss (workwear), Grundfos (leading pump manufacturer) and Intersport (sporting goods retailer).

Also new to the EHF EURO events were Moneygram (money transfer and payment services) and the VELUX Group (roof windows), title sponsor of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

Sponsorship packages brokered by Infront saw the event’s official sponsors receive strong brand positioning in camera view around the court through advertising sequences on LED boards, floor stickers, static boards behind the goal and interview backdrops as well as full activation rights, corporate hospitality opportunities and tickets.

In addition to their presence in the arenas, sponsors benefited from many branding opportunities at special locations in the host cities, including fan areas in the city centres. As a result of their sponsorship agreements, Infront brought more than 4,000 VIP guests to the event.

Digital reach up 300%

The continued investment in digital from both the EHF and its exclusive media and marketing partner for the EHF EURO events, Infront Sports & Media, paid dividends with total audience increasing to 60 million, an increase of more than 300% compared to the previous event. The official hashtag #ehfeuro2016 also generated more than one billion impressions worldwide.

There were new innovations including coverage on Snapchat and Whatsapp. The event’s online channels also attracted record number of users, with the official website visited by more than one million people for the first time, an increase of 44 per cent compared to 2014, generating over 10.3 million page views.

Video content also proved to be hugely popular with 1.5 million live streams watched on, the federation’s dedicated handball streaming platform, and almost 3.7 million minutes of content watched on the event’s official YouTube Channel.

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