European handball reaching new heights

Michael Wiederer, president of the European Handball Federation (EHF), reflects on a landmark year for the organisation and looks forward to the exciting developments to come.

Guest Contributor
By Guest Contributor | 18 July 2017
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2016 was a significant year for the European Handball Federation (EHF). It was a time for celebrations as the federation marked its 25th anniversary but it was also a record-breaking year as the flagship national team event, the EHF EURO, reached an all-time high. A cumulative TV audience of more than 2.2 billion people followed the men’s and the women’s events, millions more followed on the official digital channels and well over half a million spectators followed matches live in arenas across Poland and Sweden.

The EHF has come a long way in its short 25-year history. With the EHF EURO, we have been successful in establishing a competition that excites and enthrals both players and fans alike, attracting huge audiences and offering an extremely appealing platform to major international brands. At a club level, too, the VELUX EHF Champions League and Women’s EHF Champions League also continue to set new standards. You just have to witness for yourself the atmosphere at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne, played in front of 19,750 passionate handball fans in the city’s Lanxess Arena, with its unique mix of spectacular entertainment and top-class sport, to understand why we believe that this event is the best on the indoor sports market.

Audience numbers and media coverage have grown exponentially year on year across all of the EHF’s properties and our innovative approach to digital has enabled us to adapt to the changing media landscape, engaging with new audiences as we continue to grow the sport’s fanbase. Long-term partnership with sponsors such as the VELUX Group, title sponsor of the VELUX EHF Champions League since 2010, and also more recent agreements with international brands such as Gorenje and Sportradar underline just how attractive handball and the EHF’s properties have become.

Michael Wiederer, EHF president

We are already looking to the next pivotal moment for the EHF and the sport. Yes, we have achieved a great deal but we also strongly believe that this points to the sport’s huge potential in the future. In 2020, we will see the Men’s EHF EURO expand to 24 teams from its current format with 16 teams. It will be the first to be hosted by three nations, and also the first where the finals will be played in a football arena. This will be a big step forward for the competition but also an opportunity as we enter new markets and create a truly pan-European competition.

At the same time, the existing contracts for the media and marketing rights for both the Men’s EHF EURO with Infront Sports & Media and also with MP & Silva for the EHF’s top club competitions will come to an end. Following discussions with stakeholders, including clubs, players and league organisations, the EHF Executive Committee reached the decision to bundle these rights and offer them on a modular basis to the market – from 2020 until 2030 for the Champions League and 2022 to 2030 for the EHF EURO events.

We have excellent partnerships with both agencies, which have allowed us to steadily improve our competitions, but since these contracts were signed we have seen an extremely positive development of handball’s profile and the EHF’s top competitions on the sports market and major changes in the media landscape. We believe that this is the right time to take this huge package of rights to the market and for the EHF to take the next quantum leap in its development.

Michael Wiederer is the President of the EHF.

Michael Wiederer, president of the European Handball Federation (EHF), reflects on a landmark year for the organisation and looks forward the exciting developments to come.

2016 was a significant year for the European Handball Federation (EHF). It was a time for celebrations as the federation marked its 25th anniversary but it was also a record-breaking year as the flagship national team event, the EHF EURO, reached an all-time high. A cumulative TV audience of more than 2.2 billion people followed the men’s and the women’s events, millions more followed on the official digital channels and well over half a million spectators followed matches live in arenas across Poland and Sweden.

The EHF has come a long way in its short 25-year history. With the EHF EURO, we have been successful in establishing a competition that excites and enthrals both players and fans alike, attracting huge audiences and offering an extremely appealing platform to major international brands. At a club level, too, the VELUX EHF Champions League and Women’s EHF Champions League also continue to set new standards. You just have to witness for yourself the atmosphere at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne, played in front of 19,750 passionate handball fans in the city’s Lanxess Arena, with its unique mix of spectacular entertainment and top-class sport, to understand why we believe that this event is the best on the indoor sports market.

Audience numbers and media coverage have grown exponentially year on year across all of the EHF’s properties and our innovative approach to digital has enabled us to adapt to the changing media landscape, engaging with new audiences as we continue to grow the sport’s fanbase. Long-term partnership with sponsors such as the VELUX Group, title sponsor of the VELUX EHF Champions League since 2010, and also more recent agreements with international brands such as Gorenje and Sportradar underline just how attractive handball and the EHF’s properties have become.

We are already looking to the next pivotal moment for the EHF and the sport. Yes, we have achieved a great deal but we also strongly believe that this points to the sport’s huge potential in the future. In 2020, we will see the Men’s EHF EURO expand to 24 teams from its current format with 16 teams. It will be the first to be hosted by three nations, and also the first where the finals will be played in a football arena. This will be a big step forward for the competition but also an opportunity as we enter new markets and create a truly pan-European competition.

At the same time, the existing contracts for the media and marketing rights for both the Men’s EHF EURO with Infront Sports & Media and also with MP & Silva for the EHF’s top club competitions will come to an end. Following discussions with stakeholders, including clubs, players and league organisations, the EHF Executive Committee reached the decision to bundle these rights and offer them on a modular basis to the market – from 2020 until 2030 for the Champions League and 2022 to 2030 for the EHF EURO events.

We have excellent partnerships with both agencies, which have allowed us to steadily improve our competitions, but since these contracts were signed we have seen an extremely positive development of handball’s profile and the EHF’s top competitions on the sports market and major changes in the media landscape. We believe that this is the right time to take this huge package of rights to the market and for the EHF to take the next quantum leap in its development.

Michael Wiederer is the President of the EHF.