ORF retains Austrian skiing rights for next three seasons
ORF, the Austrian public-service broadcaster, has retained one of the flagship sports properties in its portfolio by agreeing a new rights agreement with the ÖSV, the Austrian ski federation.
The new deal for the domestic rights runs for three years from the 2017-18 season onwards.
ORF has secured multi-platform rights for the men’s and women’s FIS World Cup events in Austria in the disciplines of Alpine skiing, ski jumping, Nordic combined, cross country, freestyle and snowboarding.
Pay-TV broadcaster Sky is also reported to have shown interest in the rights tender issued by the ÖSV at the end of May.
A bullish Alexander Wrabetz, ORF’s general director, hailed the new agreement between “the best ski federation in the world” and “the best ski broadcaster in the world.”
ORF held the exclusive rights in Austria in a five-year agreement that expired at the end of last season.
The retention of the rights comes as a boon to the broadcaster after it lost out on retaining rights to the Uefa Champions League in Austria, with coverage to switch to pay-TV only from 2018-19 onwards (on Sky and DAZN).
The ÖSV’s rights auction occurred in a busy period in the Austrian market, with the Austrian Bundesliga’s domestic and international rights sales process also taking place.
ORF already holds rights to World Cup events outside Austria, plus rights to the FIS Alpine and Nordic World Ski Championships, through an agreement with the Infront Sports & Media agency.
International rights to FIS World Cup skiing events are held by the European Broadcasting Union, the umbrella body of mainly public-service broadcasters, until the end of the forthcoming 2017-18 season.
The EBU’s Austrian skiing rights renewal was announced in 2014 and gave members access to prestigious events such as Alpine skiing races in Kitzbühel and Schladming and the Innsbruck and Bischofshofen legs of ski jumping’s Four Hills Tournament.
In late 2011, ORF renewed rights to FIS World Cup skiing events in Austria, which it held until the end of the 2011-12 season in a controversial 10-year deal.
In 2008, Austria’s competition authorities ruled that, from 2012 onwards, the ÖSV’s tender would have to be subject to specific rules designed to facilitate a transparent allocation process that did not encourage one broadcaster to acquire all rights exclusively, as ORF had done in the past.
Sky had long coveted the rights, as had private networks Puls4, ATV and ServusTV.
In 2010, the ProSiebenSat.1–owned Puls 4 ended ORF’s monopoly on World Cup skiing by concluding a three-year rights deal to show ski cross events from the FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup.