Premier Sports has signed an agreement with the European Handball Federation (EHF) to broadcast this season’s Champions League competition to UK viewers.
The channel will show one match live or delayed in full every week from Europe’s premier club handball tournament, as well as an EHF-produced magazine and highlights show ‘Rewind – The Handball Show’ on Monday evenings.
Premier Sports will pick up live coverage of the EHF Champions League on Saturday, October 6, when Hungarian side Pick Szeged take on Kadetten Schaffhausen of Switzerland in the second round of group stage games.
Coverage begins at 4.10pm on Sky channel 428 (subscription only) ahead of a 4.15pm throw-off. Match commentary will be provided by former Irish handball player and coach Tom Ó Brannagáin.
Previously UK fans were only able to watch delayed coverage of the competition on British Eurosport.
Handball received a significant boost to its popularity in the UK during the London 2012 Olympic Games, as matches were played in front of vast and enthusiastic crowds inside the Copper Box and Basketball Arena, with many fans experiencing the sport for the very first time, whether at the venues or watching on television.
Every match was broadcast live on the BBC’s dedicated Olympics channels, with selected highlights and live action from key matches on BBC One and BBC Two during the Games, bringing vital exposure of this fast-paced and energetic sport to wider UK audiences.
Richard Webb, Operations Director of Premier Sports said: “It is great to be able to showcase further a sport that really caught the imagination of UK fans during the summer Olympics.
“The Velux EHF Champions League is a superb competition and we are delighted to be able to offer it on a weekly basis throughout the season.”
Peter Vargo, Managing Director of EHF Marketing, said: “After the successful presentation of handball at the London 2012 Olympic Games we would like to establish the sport on UK television schedules.
“This will be a chance to promote the top product of European club handball and we believe that we can gain a solid foothold for the sport in the UK.”
Handball is hugely popular in Scandinavian countries and continental Europe, and the EHF Champions League tournament, like its football equivalent, is the pinnacle of the sport for professional European club teams, and features some of the world’s best players, great match atmospheres and sell-out crowds.
German side THW Kiel are the defending champions going into the 2012-13 season and will be looking to retain their trophy, but Spanish sides Atletico Madrid and Barcelona are expected to provide a strong challenge.
Comprising of 24 of the best teams from across Europe, the group stages of the competition split them into four groups, consisting of six teams.
After 10 matchdays, the first four ranked teams in each group will advance to the knockout stage, beginning in February 2013 and continues through to the climax of the tournament, the ‘final four’ stage, on 1-2 June 2013.
Premier Sports adds live Handball to its expanding portfolio of sports rights, having started broadcasting in April 2010 on the Sky platform (channel 428) in the UK.
The channel is available in 10 million homes with Sky, and currently focuses on niche sports that have strong and passionate followings, such as conference football, championship rugby league, Top 14 French rugby union, NASCAR racing and Swedish speedway.
Future rollouts will begin shortly on all other platforms.
UK viewers wanting to subscribe to the channel should visit the Premier Sports website and enter ‘handball’ in the promo code section of the subscription page to receive a special offer.
.EHF Champions League 2012-13 Season LIVE games on Premier Sports Saturday 6th October SC Pick Szeged (HUN) v Kadetten Schaffhausen (SUI) Round 2 – Group D – LIVE – Throw-off: 4.15pm Sunday 14th October Montpellier (FRA) v HSV Hamburg (GER) Round 3 – Group A – LIVE – Throw-off: 6pm Monday 22nd October Chambery (FRA) v KS Vive Targi Kielce (POL) Round 4 – Group C – DELAYED – 12.00pm Sunday 18th November HC Metalurg (MKD) v Vivi Targi (POL) Round 5 – Group C – DELAYED – 5.00pm Sunday 25th November Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) v HSV Hamburg (GER) Round 6 – Group A – LIVE – Throw-off: 4.15pm Sunday 2nd December THW Kiel (GER) v BM Atletico Madrid (ESP) Round 7 – Group B – LIVE – Throw-off: 4.15pm Further live games TBC… .
For more information on the Velux EHF Champions League, visit the official website – CLICK HERE