Belgium: RTL is also betting on hockey

Over the past year, the private channel has expanded its sports offer. After cycling and padel, it is a new discipline which has enriched its catalog after the acquisition of the rights for EuroHockey 2023.

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It is a new “coup” which was carried out this week by RTL Belgium. The private channel is continuing its offensive on the sports rights market with the acquisition of the European hockey championship, which will take place in Mönchengladbach next August. A tournament whose first place will qualify for the Paris Olympics. And during which the Red Lions and the Red Panthers will clearly have a good card to play.

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A wonderful opportunity that Vincenzo Ciuro, the head of sports on the Avenue Georgin side, could not ignore. “Last February, we already had the opportunity to position ourselves for the World Cup final in India. Unfortunately, this could not be done for various reasons. But the idea remained well anchored in a corner of our head. Hockey is a unifying sport whose room for improvement remains significant despite the already impressive results garnered for nearly a decade, both at the male and female levels. And the values of the discipline are totally in line with RTL’s DNA for this unifying side. As is already the case, for example, for the Red Devils. »

And even if hockey is a niche sport with its 57,482 members, it fits quite naturally into the global “sports” offer, because it makes it possible to reach new audiences. “We have already been able to observe this phenomenon recently with the broadcasting of the Brussels Padel Open, which worked very well on RTLplay. We attracted, during the five days of the tournament, between 15 and 20% of new subscribers on our digital platform, only thanks to this event. And these new users stayed to consume other sports such as tennis. We hope to create an identical dynamic with hockey which will be broadcast on RTL club, but also on digital and our social networks. This could therefore attract new audiences. But also allow us to increase the credibility and notoriety of RTL sports. »

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A premium, eclectic and diversified offer

And the objective of the private channel is not limited to the short term. The desire is obviously to install this “hockey” presence on the various media and to go much further than the simple broadcasting of the Euro. With the next World Cup in sight, which will take place in Wavre in 2026. But Vincenzo Ciuro is aware that it is not easy to find your place as a new player in this extremely competitive market, and that the means of the private channel do not allow him all the follies. “The primary ambition is to make the Champions League contract permanent since it expires in 2024. And we absolutely want to keep these rights for a new cycle. We also want to position ourselves to acquire other cycling races in order to inflate our overall offer. And we will inject resources into this. We will do the same for tennis and padel. Ditto for combat sports. Our offer must be premium, eclectic and diversified. Although we won’t be streaming golf or sailing overnight either. We obviously remain attentive to the rights for Wimbledon or for the Vuelta if Remco Evenepoel participates. But we won’t go all over the place and we won’t splurge. »

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As for the coverage of the Giro or the padel, the ambition is to offer different formats (live, summaries and specific content), in order to offer a gateway to other existing content on the RTLplay platform. A complete offer which will especially delight the supporters of our two national teams, who were terribly frustrated not to have been able to attend the performances of the Red Lions on a linear channel during the last World Cup.

by Le Soir

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