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Zug, Switzerland - The international sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media has extended its key commercial rights agreement with the Champions Hockey League (CHL), the Pan-European club ice hockey competition. Following the promising first two seasons, the new agreement now covers a period of six years from 2017/18 onwards. It includes media rights sales, marketing of the event and commercial packages, overall venue management, digital strategy and management of the TV production.
Steering broadcast, digital and sponsorship success
Since its inaugural season, the CHL has seen growing enthusiasm amongst fans, media companies and sponsors. Infront - as the exclusive commercial partner - has created a solid base for the future strength of the competition on all ends. The 2015/16 season achieved a cumulative audience of 153.1 million, which is a 64 per cent increase compared to the inaugural 2014/15 season. 157 games were broadcast in HD format with rights distributed to 19 broadcasters and digital platforms, covering a total of 40 territories worldwide.
Fan demand was met through a well-received digital strategy. A mobile responsive website was created along with campaigns across social platforms and full streaming of all games provided both live (depending on territory) and on demand on www.championshockeyleague.net. As a result, the platform attracted a strong contingent of leading international brands each receiving high levels of brand exposure across all platforms.
New competitive qualification entry system
Following the third General Assembly Meeting of the Champions Hockey League, held in Berlin, Germany today, a new qualification system from the 2017/18 season onwards has been presented. A new total of 32 professionally ranked teams will be granted entry based purely on sporting merit. Within the new criteria, 24 of the best teams from the founding national leagues, 8 from the Challenge Leagues with a maximum of 5 teams per country will be accepted into the competition alongside the previous season CHL Champion and the Continental Cup Winner which are granted automatic qualification.
Stable investment and long-term commitment
Martin, Baumann, CEO of Champions Hockey League, stated: “Signing a six year prolongation is a very strong message for fans and media – it not only shows that our media and marketing partner Infront believes in our product, it also shows that all shareholders and partners are extremely committed and will continue to work hard on improvements. The new Infront contract, together with the new sportive format, gives us stability and a long-term perspective to develop club ice hockey in Europe.”
Bruno Marty, Executive Director Winter Sports of Infront, said: “This extension is in line with our original nine year plan and development strategy for the CHL. Acquiring strong partners and convinced investors that inject real passion into the sport and momentum into future growth is fundamental. We fully believe in the high potential of the CHL to support the European sales activities of major sponsor partners, especially due to its strong commercial opportunities as the only Pan-European ice hockey platform in the market. Furthermore, with the new changes to the entry qualification criteria and competition format, we expect a massive increase in the appeal of the platform.”
2016/17 season to start on 16 August
The 2016/17 Champions Hockey League season will open with four games on 16 August 2016. Game Day 1 will conclude on 19 August. In the Group Stage, 48 teams will compete in 16 groups, with winners and runners-up all qualifying for the Round of 32. The final will be played on 7 February 2017 at the home arena of the club with the best record leading up to the final.
About the Champions Hockey League
The league is fully owned and operated by the Champions Hockey League AG/Ltd which includes, as its shareholders, 26 Founding Clubs, six national Founding Leagues and the International Ice Hockey Federation. The Founding National Leagues are: Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland. The best teams from the Challenge Leagues (Belarus, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Norway, Poland and Slovakia) are extended Wild Cards (C-Licenses). The 2016/17 season opens 16 August 2016 with 48 teams. Poland is the new and 13th league in the competition. The teams which participate in the 2016/17 season represent a total of 267 national championships between them.
About Infront Sports & Media
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 900 experienced staff working from over 35 offices across more than 15 countries, delivering 4,100 event days of top class sport around the world every year. In November 2015, Infront was integrated into Wanda Sports Holding, part of the Chinese conglomerate the Dalian Wanda Group.