Photo: MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO,ITALY
Image shows a camera drone used at night World Cup race.
Two sources close to the FIS have confirmed the intent of the FIS Concorde Agreement with Ski Racing Media.
A battle has been waging as to who will control the international broadcast rights of the FIS World Cup. As we near a first-round conclusion, the FIS sees a path to making this considerable change to the future of FIS sports.
Of critical importance, the Swiss courts have ruled that the international broadcast rights of the FIS World Cup are the rightful property of the FIS. Therefore, the courts determined that only the FIS has the right to sell those rights.
Ski Racing now has multiple sources close to the FIS, helping us understand the thinking of the FIS and how they plan to use the new revenue.
Our sources explain that the Concorde Agreement is an attempt by the FIS to modernize the monetization of their most valuable financial asset. By taking control of international broadcast rights, the FIS would be able to leverage the revenue stream from the rights and use the new revenue to benefit all FIS sports..
Our sources have also given us insight into how the FIS plans to help all member nations prosper and grow.
By directly controlling and centralizing all international broadcasting rights, the FIS believes they could increase the quality of the broadcasts offered to fans and share broadcasting revenue with all National Governing Bodies (NGBs) members, noting the two are intractably connected.
To answer the concerns of the host nations, the FIS plans to guarantee the hosts equal revenue to the value of their current agreements with Infront. The FIS also proposes that the host participates in additional revenue sharing from the FIS profits. Unique to the new FIS plan, non-hosting nations would also directly benefit from shared broadcast revenue.
Referencing Infront media, the source close to FIS stated: “Infront has not done a good job using the international broadcast rights to leverage media platforms, the timing of broadcasts, and the production value of the events.” With FIS centralizing control of international broadcast rights and production quality, they would maximize the financial benefit to their sports.
Beyond profit-sharing, our sources reveal the FIS has additional plans to use the broadcast profits to benefit FIS sports.
The FIS will use a portion of the money currently included in Infront’s profits, tens of millions of dollars, to improve the production value of the programming. Their thinking is that better production levels will attract more viewers and increase the value of its broadcasting rights. More viewers mean more profit. More profits mean resources to grow and benefit the sports. FIS plans to invest in new technologies, including but not limited to more cameras, unique camera angles, and drones. Tools used at the most popular and profitable races would become the standard for all FIS broadcasts.
The FIS also intends to use the funds to invest in a currently nonexistent FIS high-quality digital medium platform.
In addition, the FIS would use the new profits to increase the prize money for athletes.
Another significant benefit of the Concorde Agreement is that it will create resources the FIS would make available to underfunded nations for athlete sponsorship and the training of coaches and athletes. This program would help advance their performance and ability to compete on the world stage.
The agreement intends to encourage professionalism and increase the commercial success of FIS sports. Sources make it clear that the FIS knows they need to provide better and more widely viewed international entertainment to thrive and survive.
We understand that the FIS is also looking for ways to expand the number of participant countries with the potential to develop “phenomenal ski resources,” citing the new Olympic venue in China as a prime example.
It is worth noting that centralized control of international broadcasting rights is now a common approach in sports. It is becoming the modern standard. Our sources reveal some of the most successful professional sports, such as Formula 1, Premier League soccer, and FIFA, use the centralized international rights model.
Understandably, Infront Sports and Media is continuing its attempt to protect itself in the courts. In the past, they have created a good business by consolidating international broadcasting rights and profiting from their resale. However, the court has ruled that the FIS and not the hosting NGBs own the broadcasting rights in question. Therefore, Infront’s contracts with NGBs are for rights the NGBs do not actually own.
Previously, meetings had been scheduled between Infront Sports and Media and the FIS. However, Infront canceled these meetings for unknown reasons. Ski Racing assumes that the court’s ruling will encourage Infront to come to the negotiating table. We believe they will wish to explore the possibility of a newly defined financial partnership.
So, what’s next? A major signal will come later this month when the FIS Congress meets. For the first time, this would provide international broadcasting revenue for all NGBs. Sources close to FIS speculate that although the big central European NGBs are less inclined to make changes, the concept would likely receive support from the vast majority of 140 FIS NGBs.
Our sources close to the FIS believe that the Concorde Agreement is the best opportunity the FIS has to increase the health of FIS snow sports and the viability of their member National Governing Bodies.