The European Handball Federation and its marketing arm, EHF Marketing GmbH, put pen to paper ahead of the final matches of the VELUX EHF Champions League season in Cologne on Sunday, 27 May, signing a new 10-year media and marketing partnership from 2020 with two of the leading companies on the international sports market, Infront and DAZN Group.
The deal, worth between 500 and 600 million euro over 10 years, is the biggest in the history of the sport. It brings not only a significant financial investment over the duration of the contract (2020-2030) but also industry-leading know-how, expertise and services from both the EHF’s existing partner, Infront, one of the world’s leading international sports marketing companies, and DAZN Group, a global leader in digital media.
At the core of the partnership is a new long-term strategy, which will see the two companies work closely with the EHF and EHF Marketing GmbH — together with Forum Club Handball, the organisation representing Europe’s top men’s clubs — to secure significant growth for the sport across both existing and new markets. A key focus of the strategic plan will be to grow the appeal of the sport, particularly to younger audiences, through an enhanced digital offering.
DAZN Group is well-placed to provide the innovative media rights strategy and extensive digital expertise required to achieve these objectives. With a proven track record of success with long term rights partnerships with the likes of WTA, FIBA, Conmebol and NFL and digital focussed brands including DAZN, the sport streaming service; and Spox.com, a leading sports website in the German-speaking market, the UK-based company is recognised as the digital leader in global sports media.
The EHF’s long-term media and marketing partner for the EHF EURO events, Infront, provides continuity within the new partnership. Having worked with the EHF since the first European Championship in 1994 and at 26 EHF EURO events since, the company — majority owned by the Chinese company Dalian Wanda Group Co., Ltd, — has worked closely with the EHF to develop the EHF EURO into one of the highest profile national team sports events on the international sports market. In 2016, the Men’s and Women’s EHF EURO events in Poland and Sweden achieved an all-time high with a cumulative TV audience of 2.2 billion.
The contracts were signed at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne by the EHF for its national team competitions including the EHF EUROs (2022-2030), youth and beach events and by EHF Marketing GmbH, the federation’s subsidiary and marketing arm, for club competitions including the EHF Champions League and other European Cup competitions from the start of the 2020/21 season through to 2029/30.
Michael Wiederer, EHF President, said: “This is a watershed moment for our sport and the EHF. The new partnership with Infront and DAZN Group will shape the future of handball on a club and national team level, not only in financial terms but also with the huge potential it brings for future growth and development.
“Handball today is a very different sport, both on and off the court, and the dimensions of this agreement underline the fact that we have a top product with the ability to electrify people worldwide.”
Philippe Blatter, CEO & President of Infront, said: "Our partnership with the EHF stretches back over two decades, and together over that time we have created a must-have product with the EHF EUROs. This new agreement is testament to the fact that when we enter partnerships with sports properties, we bring great experience and value.
“We are all about uniting people in sports by creating emotions, fulfilling the dreams of millions of fans and allowing them to share their passion. I am delighted to continue this journey with the EHF.
We have an opportunity to grow the popularity of European handball by expanding into a younger and more digitally focused fan base and by engaging the audience beyond the sixty minutes of the game."
Jacopo Tonoli, Chief Commercial Officer of DAZN Group, said: “We are delighted to announce this long-term partnership with the European Handball Federation and look forward to working closely with Infront and EHF, bringing handball to a new audience and entertaining a new breed of fan.
“At DAZN Group we are changing the world of sport for fans and have a proven track record of working with some of the biggest rights holders to help them commercialise and grow their sport. This is a significant moment for handball and we look forward to bringing our innovative approach and expertise to this deal to help grow the sport for fans across the world.”
David Szlezak, Managing Director of EHF Marketing GmbH, said: “The EHF Champions League has undergone a tremendous development since the founding of EHF Marketing in 2005. We have introduced clear standards, developed a high-quality media product and been successful in establishing both the men’s and women’s FINAL4s as the benchmark events in European indoor sport.
“There is still a lot of potential in the marketing of our sport and it seems that the market has taken notice of this. As the sports market experiences digital disruption, we are facing an exciting period of transformation and by bundling all of European handball’s media and marketing rights together we believe that we have taken the right step at the right time.
“Together with Infront and DAZN Group we are ready to further elevate handball and look forward to a bright future for our sport.”
Xavier O’Callaghan, President Forum Club Handball, said: “The new long-term agreement with Infront and DAZN Group offers tremendous opportunities for the development of handball in the long term, now is the moment to work together to build a better and stronger product.
“The EHF and EHF Marketing GmbH have been extremely professional in their approach to the tender together with Forum Club Handball, and I would like to emphasise the positive and transparent cooperation between equal partners.
“I am convinced that we have made the right choice and I am really looking forward to seeing what we can all achieve together in the years ahead.”