Sporty TV: A new free-to-air sports channel set to launch

Sporty TV
Sporty TV. Photo: Perinvest Group

Czech viewers will soon have a new free-to-air sports channel. The Perinvest Group's project will debut on the nationwide DVB-T2 network of Czech Radiocommunications (CRA), replacing the current Test-1 position in Multiplex 23 from the start of March. No additional tuning will be necessary.

Perinvest, the owner of the TV station, has a history of hosting large cultural, sporting, and social events, including the Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Euroleague Basketball Final Four, and international NHL tournaments in Prague.

Perinvest had planned the sports TV project in collaboration with the media group A11. However, they decided to proceed independently. One of the companies within the Perinvest group specializes in streaming and producing broadcasts on digital platforms.

Perinvest also operates its own internet television, CzechIceHockey.TV, which streams matches from the second hockey league. The new Sporty TV will also utilize this footage, likely featuring in the morning program, and potentially in live broadcasts.

"Enhancing the service for fans of the second hockey league, for instance, by attempting larger broadcasts with a studio during the playoffs, is a good idea. After all, the competition includes former extra-league players and even former world champions," says Jiří Kalemba, Sporty TV's editor-in-chief.

Kalemba, an experienced sports commentator who worked at Czech Television from 2006 to 2022 and was recently a presenter at Radio Prostor, sees potential in partnering with smaller sports associations.

"The aim is to provide a platform for sports that haven't had one before. Discovering stories and creating synergies with the content of individual sports associations is the goal. Competing with CT Sport or O2 TV Sport is not the intention. Instead, the strength will lie in reaching out to numerous smaller sporting communities, while also being able to engage in many commercial partnership activities uncommon in Czech broadcasting, whether in-studio or through the integration of social media and broadcasting," he explains.

The content will not merely be a rundown of sports statistics; it will be entertaining and offer viewers a glimpse behind the scenes of sports television. "The approach is to connect with smaller communities and build a reputation with them. Lacrosse, American football, basketball, handball, and indoor sports in general," he lists as examples of sports that Sporty TV could cover.

The core of the indoor sports offering will consist of basketball, volleyball, floorball, and handball.

"Having extensive experience and contacts with smaller sports associations from work in TV, this will be a great opportunity for them to expand their media presence," Kalemba notes.

In addition to domestic matches, Sporty TV plans to broadcast foreign matches in indoor sports. For example, viewers can look forward to the Italian basketball league or handball national leagues from various European countries. Youth championships are also on the agenda. Other sports that may be featured include box lacrosse, curling, and the Czech American football league. Marquee events like the Rome Marathon or the Around Poland cycling race will also be broadcast.

Sports broadcasts and recordings will be complemented by documentaries, both Czech and foreign. Sporty TV is collaborating with the Sportfilm Liberec festival. "Many of the films that have been screened at this festival will be broadcast on our channel," Kalemba confirms.

The programming will be diversified with original magazine formats and talk shows. For instance, Sporty TV has announced a TV coaching segment with Marian Jelinek. The Tess Flow show, hosted by presenter and influencer Tereza Peterová, will feature interviews with celebrities and experts on healthy lifestyles.

Sporty TV's technical facilities will be located in Prague's Nusle district, home to the SAT Plus company. This is where the broadcasts will be commented on and footage edited. It will also be the only studio where Sporty TV will film its programs. The set has been under construction in recent weeks.

The launch of broadcasting has been repeatedly postponed due to necessary preparations. Initially, the channel was set to broadcast from mid-January, then from February 14, and now it's scheduled for March 1. According to Kalemba, this date is definite, ensuring that the channel will be able to broadcast events like the indoor sports playoffs, for example.

Sporty TV does not aim to compete with major stations like CT Sport or Eurosport. Instead, it seeks to cover areas that don't align with the programming of established stations.

"Typically, men's competitions are what you see on TV. The plan is to focus significantly on the women's segment. There will definitely be ample coverage of women's sports like floorball or volleyball. Given the global surge in popularity of women's sports, particularly in football and hockey, offering much more women's sports coverage than is typical on other sports channels is the belief." A female perspective could also feature in other shows.

In addition to Perinvest's cameras at the ice rinks, Sporty TV will use technology from Livebox, which has smaller production trucks, to produce and provide broadcasts. There are plans to collaborate with Livesport, which will supply sports statistics for the broadcast and editors who already have experience recording audio commentaries. "This could also be a way to discover talent for the TV scene," Kalemba believes.

The editorial team will not be large, relying mainly on freelancers. Kalemba's goal is to build a team of young, enthusiastic commentators who will grow with the station. Viewers should be able to see their passion for sport, their enjoyment, and the emotions they bring. The Sporty TV commentary team will also include Tomas Klement, who has years of experience commentating on volleyball or athletics for Czech Television.

Initially, Sporty TV will broadcast 15 hours a day. "Apart from the second hockey league, there will be one or two broadcasts of indoor sports. There will already be days when some sports will go against each other, so experimenting with handling programming priorities is the plan," Kalemba looks forward to. While the TV station will have a website and likely an app in the future, streaming of simultaneous broadcasts is not yet planned.

The slow start of Sporty TV is deliberate, in part due to the high competition of international sporting events, which traditionally draw high viewership. In May, the hockey World Cup will be played in Prague and Ostrava. In mid-June, UEFA Euro 2024 will start, and in August, the Summer Olympics in Paris will begin.

"Competing with UEFA Euro and the Olympics with content that you will struggle to produce is futile. So, testing out the playoffs, building up collaborations, and from September onwards, focusing on domestic sport, both men's and women's, is the plan," concludes Jiri Kalemba.

You may also like: