After nearly a decade of offering the public free livestreams of its World Cup climbing events, the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) has signed a 3-year contract with Discovery Sports.
Effective April 8, a new broadcast deal will place the IFSC’s bouldering, lead, and speed competitions behind a paywall. Discovery+ and its partner service, Eurosport, will provide coverage of the events. Note that subscriptions start at around $7 per month.
In the March 25 press release, the IFSC noted that recordings of each event will still be available to stream free of charge 24 hours after the live round. This happens via the Olympic Channel (and various YouTube channels, presumably).
Why the IFSC Moved to Discovery Sports
It’s a move that seems symptomatic of climbing’s newfound popularity. Climbing enjoyed relative obscurity from spectatorship just a few short years ago. Will it follow the major league sports trajectory?
IFSC President Marco Scolaris seems keen on the idea.
“We are confident that partnering with Discovery will help solidify our position as one of the fastest-growing Olympic sports. And, thanks to the greater exposure, will lead more and more people to become interested in not only watching climbing but also trying it out,” he said.
This isn’t the first time the IFSC has tried to monetize its livestreams. In 2017, the organization announced a different 3-year subscription engagement with FloSports. But the IFSC backed out of the contract amid near-unanimous backlash from the climbing community.
Back then, though, “Free Solo” had yet to hit the box office. Further, no one had ever won an Olympic medal for climbing.
The stage for 2022’s competitions is palpably different.