International Swimming League & Eurosport Sign Two-Year Deal For Global Broadcast Rights

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Adam Peaty of London Roar - Photo Courtesy: Arena

Eurosport To Broadcast International Swimming League For First Two Years of Pro-Team Tour

Eurosport has bought worldwide rights to broadcast the inaugural two seasons of the International Swimming League (ISL), the global professional-team tour shaping a new chapter in the sport.

The line-up for the first series of the ISL between October and December is a Who’s Who of the elite of the world of swimming, including Olympic gold medallists Katie Ledecky, Nathan Adrian, Katinka Hosszu, Mireia Belmonte, Cate Campbell, Federica Pellegrini, Adam Peaty, Ryan Murphy, Chad le Clos, Penny Oleksiak, Sarah Sjöström, Bronte Campbell,  Kyle Chalmers, Florent Manaudou and Natalie Coughlin.

The ISL, which prompted the likes of Manaudou and Coughlin to make comebacks, gets underway on October 5-6 in Indianapolis, before more rounds in the USA as well as Naples, Budapest and London and a grand final on December 20-21 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

The first professional sports league for elite swimming is a team event in which swimmers from different nations will join forces and compete for points and dollars. It will take the sport away from the traditional championship program that, biggest occasions apart, has grown stale and been a barrier to new formats and growing audiences beyond the fan base.

Another aspect of the League is the pending arrival of the first professional swimmers’ union or representative body. A gathering of more than 30 Olympic and World champions, podium placers and world record holders in London last December made clear that they will insist on organising authorities such as FINA, the regulator and international federation for the sport, and the ISL, an event host, including their representatives in discussions and decision-making on issues that affect their careers, their work, their livelihoods and welfare.

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The Swimmers’ proposed Class Action in Play

In the meantime, legal action between the ISL and a class-action case led by Hosszu, Michael Andrew and Tom Shields, is proceeding, the League having won the latest round of to and fro.

Broadcast rights were among the missing pieces in the ISL’s puzzle before a new home for  swimming opens its doors to the public in October.

Eurosport, which has secured the exclusive rights (live and delayed) in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region in 2019 and 2020 (except Australia) to broadcast the ISL, says the series will “engage swimming fans and beyond through cutting-edge production and a never-been-seen before live show during the meeting itself”.

Announcements about the deal, which include digital rights to the competition and exclusive sublicense rights worldwide (except USA and Australia), did not specify the the sums of money involved, nor were there details of what the arrangements might mean for other media.

Laurent Prud’homme, SVP Rights Acquisitions and Syndication for Eurosport, said: “The agreement with the ISL is strategically important for Eurosport, strengthening our portfolio of premium rights and continuing to tell our Olympic story with over 70% of Summer Olympic disciplines screened on our channels across the globe.

“The ISL will give world-class swimmers the platform to perform and we are thrilled to be able to showcase this exciting new competition to millions of fans all over the world on all screens.”

Konstantin Grigorishin, ISL President, added:

“We are delighted to partner with Eurosport, one of the best and major sport fans destination on the planet. With this agreement, International Swimming League will benefit from an unprecedented massive coverage in Europe for a brand-new competition.”

ISL – Key dates

  • 5-6 October 2019 – IU Natatorium, Indianapolis, USA
  • 12-13 October 2019 – Aquatic Swimming Complex, Napoli, Italy
  • 19-20 October 2019 – The LISD Westside Aquatic Center, Lewisville, Texas, USA
  • 26-27 October 2019 – Duna Area, Budapest, Hungary
  • 16-17 November 2019 – Natatorium at the Eppley Recreation Center, Maryland, USA
  • 23-24 November 2019 – London Aquatic Centre, Great Britain
  • 20-21 December 2019 – Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas, USA

Format

Founded by Ukrainian financier Grigorishin, the league will explore the full potential of competitive swimming and secure sustainable commercial growth in the sport.

Mixed gender teams will compete for points in fast-paced races – including sprint, relay and skin.

The is built on six pillars:

  • A team-based competition format – swimmers compete for team points.

  • Financial incentives – each athlete will sign two contracts: one with their team and another with the ISL – creating two sources of revenue, one that runs through the clubs, and one that comes directly from the league.

  • Gender equality – 12 men and 12 women will represent each team

  • World’s best athletes – About 75% of swimming’s current Olympic champions and world record holders will compete in ISL tournaments

  • Regular seasons – Meets will be held from October to December 2019. In 2020, the season will be extended.

  • Zero tolerance of doping – No athlete with a previous doping violation will be allowed to compete, and there will be a zero tolerance policy if doping is discovered. So, no Sun Yang, no Yuliya Efimova, none of the controversy that has dogged FINA for many years and most poignantly at the Rio Olympic Games, when booing and jeering rained down from the stands each time Sun, Efimova and others towing a penalty for a positive test walked out to race.

ISL Teams and Teamsters

LONDON ROAR – manager Rob Woodhouse

Women: Minna Atherton; Holly Barratt; Mireia Belmonte; Bronte Campbell; Cate Campbell; Jess Hansen Holly Hibbott Boglárka Kapás; Emma McKeon; Taylor McKeown; Siobhan-Marie O’Connor; Jeanette Ottesen; Sydney Pickrem; Sarah Vasey; Marie Wattel

Men: Péter Bernek, Kyle Chalmers, Christian Diener, Alex Graham, Guilherme Guido, James Guy; Yuri Kisil; Finlay Knox; Vini Lanza; Cam McEvoy; Adam Peaty Kirill Prigoda Duncan Scott Matt Wilson Elijah Winnington

TEAM IRON (Budapest) – manager Katinka Hosszu

Women: Veronika Andrusenko; Alia Atkinson; Ajna Késely; Kim Busch; Kimberly Buys; Maddie Groves; Katinka Hosszú; Ranomi Kromowidjojo; Jenna Laukkanen; Fanny Lecluyse; Mie Nielsen; Kira Toussaint; Jessica Vall; Zsuzsanna Jakabos.

Men: Henrik Christiansen; Dávid Verrasztó; Jérémy Desplanches; Dominik Kozma; Robert Glinta; Kristóf Milák; Vladimir Morozov; Peter John Stevens; Sebastian Szabo; Pieter Timmers; Richard Bohus; Ross Murdoch

LA CURRENT – manager Lenny Krayzelburg

Women: Kathleen Baker; Amy Bilquist; Jhennifer Conceição; Ella Eastin; Béryl Gastaldello; Margo Geer; Annie Lazor; Katie McLaughlin; Andi Murez; Farida Osman; Leah Smith; Kendyl Stewart; Aly Tetzloff

Men: Michael Chadwick; Dylan Carter; Jack Conger; Matt Grevers; Ryan Held; Chase Kalisz; Will Licon; Felipe Lima; Ryan Murphy; Blake Pieroni; Josh Prenot; Andrew Seliskar; Tom Shields.

NY BREAKERS – manager Tina Andrew

Women: Haley Black; Ali DeLoof; Catie DeLoof; Gabby DeLoof; Emily Escobedo; Reva Foos; Lara Grangeon; Lia Neal; Emily Overholt; Breeja Larson; Alys Thomas; Madison Wilson

Men: Michael Andrew; Marcelo Chierighini; Mack Darragh; João de Lucca; Jonathan Gomez; Marco Koch; Marius Kusch; Clyde Lewis; Jack McLoughlin; Jacob Pebley; Christoper Reid; Pedro Spajari; Brad Tandy; Markus Thormeyer

AQUA CENTURIONS – manager Alessandra Guerra

Men: Luiz Altamir Melo; Apostolos Christou; Santo Condorelli; Breno Correia; Laszlo Cseh; Gabriele Detti; Luca Dotto; Kristian Gkolomeev; Philip Heintz; Nicolo Martinenghi; Alessandro Miressi; Fabio Scozzoli.
Women: Ilaria Bianchi; Georgia Bohl; Martina Carraro; Ilaria Cusinato; Silvia Di Pietro; Franziska Hentke; Sarah Köhler; Kaylee McKeown; Larissa Oliveira; Margherita Panziera; Federica Pellegrini.

ENERGY STANDARD – head coach James Gibson

Men: Simonas Bilis; Anton Chupkov; Chad le Clos; Max Litchfield; Florent Manaudou; Andrei Minakov; Ben Proud; Danas Rapšys; Mykhailo (Misha) Romanchuk; Evgeny Rylov; Sergii Shevtsov; Ilya Shymanovich; Maxim Stupin.

Women: Charlotte Bonnet; Imogen Clark; Georgia Davies; Femke Heemskerk; Fantine Lesaffre; Penny Oleksiak; Kayla Sanchez; Emily Seebohm; Anastasiya Shkurdai;  Sarah Sjöström; Kierra Smith; Rebecca Smith.

DC TRIDENT – manager Kaitlin Sandeno

Men: Zach Apple; Kevin Cordes; Abrahm DeVine; Ian Finnerty; Zane Grothe; Zach Harting; Tristan Hollard; Jay Litherland; Cody Miller; Andreas Vazaios; Giles Smith; Jérémy Stravius

Women: Bethany Galat; Sarah Gibson; Siobhán Haughey; Madison Kennedy; Katie Ledecky; Leiston Pickett; Brianna Throssell; Sian Whittaker; Natalie Coughlin; Anika Apostalon; Lisa Bratton

CALI CONDORS – manager Jason Lezak

Men: Bowe Becker; Jack Cartwright; Nic Fink; Townley Haas; Anton Ipsen; Radosław Kawęcki; Mitch Larkin; Kacper Majchrzak; Jan Świtkowski; Justin Ress; John Shebat; Mark Szaranek; Andrew Wilson.

Women: Mallory Comerford; Kelsi Dahlia; Hali Flickinger; Molly Hannis; Natalie Hinds; Shayna Jack; Lilly King;  Melanie Margalis; Kylie Masse; Olivia Smoliga; Ariarne Titmus; Kelsey Wog; Kasia Wasick; Signe Bro.