The IIHF has extended the extensive media and marketing partnership with Infront Sports & Media for the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship until 2023.
The agreement, which includes the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship as well as the two Division I tournaments (Group A and B) has been unanimously ratified by the delegates of the 2014 IIHF Annual Congress in Minsk, Belarus last Friday. Infront will continue to market all commercial rights for the IIHF’s flagship event as well as providing a comprehensive array of services including the state-of-the-art multimedia production.
IIHF President René Fasel commented: “A comprehensive agreement that holds such high impact for the development and growth of our sport of ice hockey needs to fulfil more than just financial criteria. It spurs the future of our flagship events and must therefore be based on reliability, mutual understanding and trust. The experienced Infront team knows the spirit of the IIHF events, the objectives of its commercial partners as well as the needs of ice hockey fans worldwide better than any other party.”
Kalervo Kummola, IIHF Vice President and Head of the IIHF Negotiation Group, added: “This prolongation is based on an intensive, long-term and very well-structured process. We are very satisfied with the outcome, as both the IIHF and its Member National Associations will benefit from the new agreement. The attractive and future-oriented offer has convinced the Negotiation Group, the IIHF Council and ultimately the IIHF Congress not to change the winning team, ensuring financial stability for the years to come and allow for long-term planning.”
Philippe Blatter, President & CEO of Infront Sports & Media, said: “Our long-term relationship with the IIHF is truly unique in sport. We thank the IIHF for its great trust in our team and its ability to continue setting benchmarks for the federation’s flagship events. Our partnership has not only enabled impressive growth for the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, but also marked media, marketing and audience records on a regular basis. Jointly with the IIHF and our commercial partners, we are fully committed to further boost the sport of ice hockey in the coming years at the highest quality levels and expand the impact of the IIHF events and assets.”
Bruno Marty, Infront’s Executive Director Winter Sport, said: “The IIHF events are a most important pillar of our comprehensive winter sports portfolio. We are looking forward to continue our joint success story with the IIHF and to further strengthen both the popularity and the premium value of its flagship event on an international scale. I am convinced that we will be able to cement the championship’s position as a consistent, highly exclusive communication platform, enhancing its impact particularly also in emerging markets and media.”
All commercial services out of one hand
Infront’s role covers the development and marketing of the sponsorship programme for the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, with the line-up currently comprising major international blue-chip brands, many of them loyal partners to the tournament, some since two to three decades. In addition, Infront handles all commercial licenses, including merchandise.
In its role as a media capacity, Infront handles the distribution of the global media rights to the competition across all platforms. In 2014, Infront established a new record TV coverage, with the event being now available in more than 150 countries and territories. Last year, the cumulative audience of the championship almost hit 1 billion, contributing to its status as the biggest annual winter sports event worldwide.
Infront has also been a driving force in the ongoing improvement of the multimedia media production standards and the digital media offer, providing live streaming and highlights in premium quality to fans worldwide. The strategic development of the IIHF digital media platforms will be further increased as of 2015 with Infront contributing to a dedicated optimization project. In addition, Infront will support the federation to establish a new one-stop-shop solution to manage and commercialise its extensive archive footage.
Overall, the collaboration between the IIHF and Infront has ever since set benchmarks in all aspects of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. Milestones include the Guinness World Record with Škoda for the longest main sponsorship of a world championship in history, the introduction of HDTV production in 2009 or the Opening Game of the 2010 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Germany with over 78,000 people marking the highest spectator attendance at an ice hockey game played indoor.