FIDE and Agon sign historic media rights with NRK Print
Tuesday, 15 December 2015 10:35

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World Chess Federation and Agon Ltd Sign Historic Media Rights Deal with NRK, a Leading Norwegian TV Network

Agon, the commercial partner of the World Chess Federation (FIDE), has signed a ground-breaking media rights deal with NRK, a leading Norwegian TV network, that grants NRK exclusive broadcasting rights for Norway for all World Chess Championship events through 2020.

The events include the 2016, 2018 and 2020 World Championship matches, the Candidates tournaments to select the challengers, and the World Blitz and Rapid Championships.

The parties did not release the amount of the deal, but stated that it’s in low seven figures and is a record for chess.

The FIDE Deputy President, Georgios Makropoulos, said, “Having chess on TV is a huge step forward, and we are very pleased that NRK will continue its excellent work with us.”

“We are very happy to secure long-term rights for chess championship events. This will enable us to focus on innovation and further development of Chess as a TV-product,” said Runar Ostmo, head of Sports Rights at NRK.

Ilya Merenzon, the CEO of Agon said, “Working with NRK, which has developed exciting ways to make chess interesting for TV audiences, is a big step for chess. With their expertise and technology, we hope to offer chess programming to other countries in Europe and around the world”.

NRK has developed novel tools for broadcasting chess on TV, including dedicated studios, chess analytics software and other devices. NRK’s chess programming in Norway, including the 2013 and 2014 World Championships, and the 2015 World Blitz and Rapid Championships, has enjoyed phenomenally high ratings.

Chess is very popular in Norway because Magnus Carlsen, the current World Champion, is Norwegian and he is one of his country’s best-known sports figures.

The deal with NRK is the first ever long-term media rights deal for chess, a game that is already played by hundreds of millions people worldwide and whose popularity is growing. Many cities and even some countries have added chess instruction in their schools – in some cases making it part of the curriculum. The growth of smartphones, many of which have powerful chess apps (including one developed by Carlsen) is also helping to develop the global audience.

With the deal with NRK, FIDE and Agon, are taking the next step forward to make chess into a sport that is popular on TV and on the Web with innovative, integrated streaming technology called chesscasting.