The International Sport Climbing Federation (IFSC) is making a second attempt after 2017 to monetize the rising popularity of climbing. In a media release on Friday, the IFSC announced a three-year partnership with the paid streaming platform Discovery+. If you want to watch the IFSC World Cups and World Championships in Europe until the 2024 Olympics, you either have to pay or wait for the delayed transmission.

On Friday he International sport climbing band announced within Europe all IFSC World Cups and World championships to be broadcast on Discovery+, the Eurosport app and Eurosport linear channels until the Paris 2024 Olympics. The events would continue to be streamed via the popular and free The Olympic channel, but only 24 hours after the end of each live round within each event.

Second attempt for compulsory subscription: memories are awakened

The obligation to pay is controversial in the climbing scene. And even if the IFSC failed to inform about the planned innovation on social media, there is already a heated discussion in the comment columns. The announcement by the International Sport Climbing Federation brings back memories of the Planned subscription requirement from 2017.

Athletes show the IFSC the red card in Meiringen (Diego Schäppi Photography)
World Cup opening 2017 in Meiringen: Athletes show the IFSC the red card in Meiringen. Image: Diego Schäppi Photography

Back then, those interested in climbing would have had to dig deep into their pockets to be able to watch the World Cups. The subscription of the partner FloSports was around 150 CHF per year. The planned cooperation with the sports TV provider triggered a storm of indignation in the climbing community. 12500 people signed a petition, at the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Meiringen, the athletes showed the association the red card. The protest had an effect, and a little later the IFSC clawed back.

Discovery coverage in Europe raises questions

The partnership with Discovery+ announced on Friday pursues the same idea, but in a weaker form. On the one hand, the subscription fees for the Discovery+ entertainment and sports package are lower at around $60 per year. On the other hand, it is still possible to watch the IFSC events free of charge - albeit only 24 hours after the end of the respective live round. Given these circumstances, it is questionable whether the IFSC will allow itself to be dissuaded from its plans again.

Discovery+ coverage-Europe-only-few-countries
In Europe, Discovery+ is currently only available in Denmark, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the UK and Ireland.

Within Europe, the Discovery+ streaming model is only available in a handful of countries, including Denmark, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the UK and Ireland, according to the ISFC media release. What does this mean for climbing fans from other European countries?

No problem, says IFSC spokesman Marco Vettoretti on request. Eurosport is part of the Discovery Group and is basically available in every country in Europe. The offers on both platforms are identical. "This means that in some countries the IFSC events will only be available on Eurosport, while in other countries they will be available on both streaming platforms - Discovery+ and the Eurosport App." And for those who do not have a subscription to Discovery/Eurosport, adds Marco Vettoretti , can watch each round 24 hours later for free on the Olympic Channel.

Increase popularity, improve sponsorship opportunities

The International Sport Climbing Federation justifies its cooperation with Discovery Sports in its press release with the intention of further increasing the popularity of sport climbing. "More than anything, our agreement with Discovery will raise the profile of our sport and our athletes, which should lead to greater sponsorship opportunities for all climbers around the world," said IFSC President Marco Scalaris quote in the communiqué.

Increasing public interest: Climbing has enjoyed great popularity at least since the Olympics; a fact the IFSC wants to monetize. Janja Garnbret at the World Cup in Innsbruck 2021. Image: Lena Drapella/IFSC

"More than anything, our agreement with Discovery will raise the profile of our sport and our athletes, which should result in greater sponsorship opportunities for all climbers around the world."

Marco Scolaris, President IFSC

"We are confident that the partnership will help cement our position as one of the fastest growing Olympic sports," added Marco Scolaris. "And that, thanks to greater awareness, more and more people are interested in not only seeing climbing, but also trying it out."

IFSC World Cup Series 2022: The Overview

  • April 8th – 10th – Meiringen (SUI) – Boulder
  • May 6-8 – Seoul (KOR) – Boulder, Speed
  • May 20-22 - Salt Lake City (USA) - Bouldering
  • May 27-29 - Salt Lake City (USA) - Boulder, Speed
  • June 10th – 12th – Brixen (ITA) – Boulder
  • June 22-25 - Innsbruck (AUT) - Boulder, Lead
  • 30 June – 2 July – Villars (SUI) – Lead, Speed
  • 8th – 10th July – Chamonix (FRA) – Lead, Speed
  • 22-23 July - Briançon (FRA) - Lead
  • 2-3 September - Koper (SLO) - Lead
  • 24-26 September - Jakarta (INA) - Lead, Speed
  • September 30 – October 2 – Wujiang (CHN) – Lead, Speed
  • October 6th – 9th – Chongqing (CHN) – Boulder & Lead
  • October - Location in Japan to be determined - Boulder

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Credits: Cover picture Jan Virt / IFSC