Eastern, Central Euro TV markets ready for World Cup

MUNICH — The Eastern and Central European TV markets are expanding and the 2006 World Cup is a good indicator of the region’s changing TV climate.

Of all the region’s markets, Poland is undoubtedly the cream of the crop. Poland was the last of the 32 nations participating in the World Cup to reach an agreement for TV coverage. For the first time Infront Sports & Media, the agency selling broadcast and new media rights for the event, inked a deal with Polish pubcaster TVP and commercial net Polsat, ensuring that the 64 matches will be available free-to-air and on pay TV.

“The Polish deal is big news for us and it means that in a relatively well developed market such as Poland the World Cup will be available on more than one platform,” says a spokesperson for Infront Sports & Media.

In the Czech Republic, the games will be broadcast by local pubcaster Ceska Televise. In addition, Czech fans will be able to receive four-minute highlights of the selected games on their mobile phone through a deal struck between T-Mobile Intl. and Infront Sports & Media.

T-Mobile’s mobile phone deal also includes Austria, Croatia, Hungary and Slovakia.  

In Hungary, Infront Sports & Media made history by selling the World Cup rights for the first time not to the Hungarian pubcaster but to the commercial TV net Magyar RTL, again reflecting the growing strength of commercial nets in the region.

However, in Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania, the rights went again to the countries’ pubcasters. In Bulgaria and Romania, two countries which didn’t qualify for the World Cup, no new media deal was struck.

Soccer might be big business in Central Europe, but even here it’s all a question of play and pay.

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