Bhubaneswar — World hockey says it is looking to change how the sport is viewed in the next round of broadcast deals with access still limited to attract a wider audience.
Due to the myriad TV rights deals – there is a current tender for 2023 running through to 2026 – many nations are still behind paywall. This was underlined for Sunday’s World Cup final which was on two subscription channels in Belgium, Voo and Play Sports.
Thierry Weil, the FIH chief executive, said hockey would look at others sports in terms of free-to-air access and how it promotes and packages the game, which also includes tournament foals, social media clips and highlights being immediately available across social media.
In this men’s event and the women’s World Cup last year, highlights have either had a delay or been hard to find. The Hockey Paper sought reaction to how the sport’s blue riband event was being promoted – which fights for attention against bigger sports across the globe – with the general view being that there was a distinct lack of visibility.
Weil has been trying to change how the sport is marketed since he joined the FIH in 2018. The Frenchman hopes to make inroads in the upcoming international broadcast rights deals. Current Contractual obligations mean that most games are geo blocked due to different broadcast agreements.
“It is a difficult progression to become free to air TV because there are so many sports and content,” said Weil. “We need to gain this back.”
What this World Cup has show, said Weil, was that the 2023 event had “massively increased the viewership”, a blueprint to showcase to broadcasters that there was demand.
“We now need to bring back looking at other sports where some are free to air to attract more people,” he said.
“We ned to make a decision to increase our viewership and the visibility. The fans are there. It is limiting the number of viewers, specifically in Europe and in England on BT Sport. Thats why this World Cup helps.”
The BT Sport deal in the UK runs out this summer, while The Hockey Paper understands that GB Hockey is looking at ways to incorporate action alongside the BBC.
Weil added: “We can demonstrate that the interest is there and people are complaining that they can’t see the games. It is something we can take forward to broadcasters to say to put it on as there are fans across the globe.”
FIH president Tayyab Ikram added: “Our priority that we bring the best action to everyone.”