Zug, Switzerland – Infront Sports & Media, the exclusive media and marketing partner of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) for the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, has announced that the 2015 event - held in the Czech Republic, between 1 and 17 May - surpassed all previous audience and spectator benchmarks. Details were presented at the IIHF Semi-Annual Congress, currently taking place in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
The event secured a total cumulative TV audience of over 1 billion, as compared to 945 million in 2014. Overall, it was aired to 165 territories worldwide - receiving a total of 5,381 hours of coverage. New or expanded contracts ensured additional coverage in Italy, the Netherlands, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia and Malaysia besides others.
Furthermore, the popular NHL superstars added to the overall appeal of the tournament. In the final, Russian great Alexander Ovechkin and Canadian captain Sidney Crosby came head to head – with Canada taking home Infront’s newly launched Team Jackpot. The recurring CHF 1 million prize is awarded to teams winning all games of a World Championship in regulation time.
In terms of onsite attendance, this year’s tournament also achieved a new record with 741,690 eager spectators, over 100,000 more than at the previous event in Belarus. Adding to this, there were a further 250,000 additional fans in the dedicated fan villages outside the arenas in the cities of Prague and Ostrava.
While local fans enjoyed onsite entertainment, the global community was engaged by an appealing social media offering. Infront has been a driving force in the ongoing improvement of the multimedia production, live streaming and the overall digital presence of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. The strategic approach for a significantly broader social media presence this year focused on video content, created to go socially viral, spread on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and the official event app presented by Škoda. This resulted in a total of 11.6 million video views during the tournament. On YouTube, watch time increased by factor 41 up to 448,000 hours as compared to 2014.
René Fasel, IIHF President, commented: “The IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship is a trademark for top-level ice hockey and the 2015 event has proven its worldwide appeal and growing demand once more. We are proud to announce, together with Infront, the incredible pinnacle of 1 billion in audience reach and at the same time, the highest spectator attendance ever recorded for the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. The atmosphere at the venues in Ostrava and Prague was inspiring, whilst our broadcast partners, sponsors and the fans themselves on social media platforms carried the enthusiasm to the world.”
Bruno Marty, Executive Director Winter Sports at Infront, added: “There are three pillars that make our partnership with the IIHF so successful: First of all our focus on the overall growth and reach of the tournament, proven by these unparalleled audience numbers. Further, our investment into the sport’s future which is demonstrated by the introduction of the new team jackpot, as well as by the strong partnerships we have built with many loyal broadcasters and sponsors. And thirdly, our commitment to boost the event brand and its fan engagement across all platforms.”
Infront not only takes a future-oriented view, but is also supporting the IIHF in the commercialisation of its long-term heritage. In 2015, Infront initiated the full digitisation and commercial exploitation of the IIHF archive material. The project encompasses the full legacy of major past events which will be catalogued and indexed through a purpose-built, state-of-the-art database for broadcast as well as digital social activity.
In 2014, the IIHF had extended its extensive media and marketing partnership with Infront to secure ongoing support for all media and commercial rights to the World Championship as well as all other services including production. Infront’s contract continues until 2023 and will be in place to handle the following events: Russia (2016), Germany/France (2017), Denmark (2018), Slovakia (2019) and Switzerland (2020).
The next IIHF International Ice Hockey World Championship is scheduled for 6–22 May 2016 in Russia. It will be held across two venues - the Ice Palace in Moscow and the Yubileiny in St. Petersburg.
Infront Sports & Media is the most respected sports marketing company in the world, managing a comprehensive portfolio of top properties. Led by President & CEO Philippe Blatter, Infront covers all aspects of successful sporting events – including distribution of media rights, sponsorship, media production and event operation – and has won a reputation for its high standards of delivery. As the number one player in winter sport and with a leading role in football, summer and endurance sports, Infront enjoys long-lasting partnerships with 170 rights-holders and hundreds of sponsors and media companies. Headquartered in Zug, Switzerland, Infront has a team of more than 650 experienced staff working from 25 offices across 13 countries, delivering 4,000 event days of top class sport around the world every year.