Regular live television coverage of the Elite Ice Hockey League will return for the 2018/19 season via Free Sports.
The deal with the free-to-air sports channel, signed for the next two seasons, will see a live game shown every two weeks, as well as regular highlights, plus live coverage of the play-off finals.
In addition, there will be a bi-weekly highlights show on Wednesdays, during the weeks when there is no a live game and fans can also look forward to a pre-season preview show to air before the new season begins.
Spearheading Free Sports’ coverage will be presenter and lead commentator Aaron Murphy, who has a wealth of experience in covering ice hockey, including the Winter Olympics, NHL and at the World Championships. He has been a regular face and voice as part of Free Sports and sister channel Premier Sports’ ice hockey coverage over the last few years.
As a fan of the Elite League, Murphy says he is delighted to be back on board and is excited about what the season may hold as the EIHL returns to receiving regular TV coverage.
“It’s brilliant to see the EIHL coming back to our TV screens, joining a great stable of hockey alongside the CHL, NHL, KHL, SHL and IIHF events on Free Sports. The league has been getting better every year, with the level on the ice now at a point where huge European teams in the CHL are defeated by EIHL clubs regularly.
“For fans to be able to see more of that in the domestic competition is a positive step forward. On the back of the Team GB success as well, it’ll be nice for people to see those players suit up for their club as well as the National side.
“I can’t wait to get back calling the games, as I always enjoyed broadcasting the EIHL in the past. This new chapter will be fantastic on free to air TV and we aim to expose the league to new viewers who will hopefully become part of the passionate fan bases of all 11 teams.”
“It’s going to be a fun season, with plenty of storylines and excitement, and we can’t wait to get going on Free Sports.”
Free Sports, a relatively new channel launched last August, covers a variety of domestic and international sporting events, including football, rugby union, tennis, cricket, speedway, ice hockey, pool and much more.
Richard Webb, operations director at Free Sports, added:
“Our Ice Hockey coverage on Free Sports continues to grow and we’re delighted to have the Elite Ice Hockey League on board.
“Our channel has showed a wealth of ice hockey over the past 12 months including monumental successes for the GB Ice Hockey team, at senior, U18s and U20s level.
“This is great deal for the fans to enjoy even more of the best British ice hockey has to offer and we can’t wait for the new season.”
Elite League chairman Tony Smith says the deal with Free Sports is a step in the right direction with the sport enjoying some increased expsoure recently thanks to the success of the Great Britain national team.
“I’m delighted we’ve been able to agree a deal with Free Sports to show free ice hockey to fans on television.
“With the success of the Great Britain national team, one of our young players, Liam Kirk, drafted to the NHL and the standard increasing every year, it’s something we were keen to tie up.
“Free Sports’ relationship with the sport, particularly in this country, is a healthy one and I’m pleased to see the Elite League join that stable in helping promote top level ice hockey from the UK.
“I want to thank Free Sports for their professionalism in these negotiations and on behalf of the league, we’re very much looking forward to working with them.”
Free Sports recently announced that it will be available to watch on Virgin TV for the first time from Saturday, 21 July, with the channel now broadcast on every platform in the UK.
Free Sports is available via Freeview (95), Sky (422), Virgin (553) FreeSat (252), TalkTalk (95), BT Vision (95) and online via the TVPlayer. For more information, visit www.freesports.tv.