Giving up Ice Hockey World Championships leads to savings of millions at YLE
Finnish Broadcasting Company plans to hold most tightly to the screening rights for Olympics
The Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) asserts that the company continues to fight seriously for the screening rights of the most important sporting events, even though in the current year, the situation might have seemed quite different.
In the spring, the commercial TV channel MTV3 snatched away YLE’s super brand, the Ice Hockey World Championships.
In addition, the public broadcaster’s new Managing Director Lauri Kivinen has said on many occasions that a part of sports events could well be shown by pay-TV channels.
”We are still interested in all sporting events. The question is nevertheless one of what it is reasonable to pay. When it comes to ice hockey, the pain threshold was overstepped”, argues Atte Jääskeläinen, YLE's Director of News, Sport, and Regional Programming.
YLE is to televise the Ice Hockey World Championships still in the spring of 2011.
According to Jääskeläinen, surrendering ice hockey screening rights gave the company more leeway with its sports budget. He is not willing to disclose how big the savings are.
According to the information gathered by Helsingin Sanomat, the sum is at least EUR 5 million per year.
In other words, the price for the Ice Hockey World Championships is roughtly equal to the cut the management ordered in sports spending already many years ago.
In 2010, YLE is spending approximately EUR 20 million on sports screening rights, which means that the share of the Ice Hockey World Championships out of the total costs is a significant one.
”The year 2010 is the most expensive year in the history of YLE in respect of sports rights, because of the Winter Olympics and the Football World Championships. Looking ahead, 2012 will be less expensive, as the television rights for the Summer Olympics and the Football European Championships are more affordable”, Jääskeläinen comments.
Jääskeläinen notes further that in the future YLE will focus on the nationally important sporting events, while the rights for televising league games will be surrendered to pay-TV channels.
YLE has given up the screening rights for Formula One, ski jumping, the IAAF World Athletics Tour, rallying, and Premier League football already ages ago.
The European and World Championships in football are likely to be the next sporting events for the rights of which YLE and the commercial television channels are to compete with each other.
”The fact that we will not broadcast the Ice Hockey World Championships in the future will admittedly cause a rift, but in other respects, our performance is in compliance with our strategy going forward”, says Jääskeläinen.
Olympic Games are major sporting events for which YLE wants most dearly to hold on to the screening rights, even though their televising rights are becoming more expensive all the time.
”The agreements on the screening rights for the World and European Championships of skiing and track and field sports will in practice extend far into the future”, Jääskeläinen reports, reflecting the traditional popularity of these events to the Finnish public.
Football also has a lot of friends in Finland, but under the Broadcasting Act, YLE is obliged to televise live and free of charge only the most important matches.
All other direct broadcasts can be transferred to pay-TV channels.
However, it could be possible even in the future to see some matches of the annual European Champions League or even some games of the SM-Liiga, Finland's premier ice hockey league.
YLE is still an interesting business partner.
For example the Finnish Football Association (Suomen Palloliitto) was ready to reduce its asking price in order to get the national A team matches distributed by YLE.
”The Football Association has understood that it is not always sensible to maximise their television income, as a wider coverage could help them to get more sponsors”, Jääskeläinen adds.
The next major contract negotiations will be conducted on the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014 and on the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
The European television rights for the 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games are owned by Sportfive, Europe’s leading sports rights marketing company, which will negotate separately with the media in each country.
Previously the International Olympic Committee sold the European TV rights to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), of which YLE is a member.
Few sitting at home realise the stunning cost of securing the rights to major sporting events, and even less significant happenings, as national and international federations seek to maximise their returns.
MTV3's Sports Programming director Tatu Lehmuskallio is tight-lipped on the cost of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships to the broadcaster, even refusing to say if it is more expensive than Formula One. The F1 circus is thought to cost at least EUR 10 million a year in rights fees.
It is believed likely that a sizeable part of the championships will be watchable live only through MTV3's pay-channel Max, as the company seeks to recoup some of the cost of the package.
SM-Liiga ice hockey games to be shown by cable networks after all (11.9.2009)
Finnish Football Association
International Ice Hockey Federation