The IBU and Eurovision Sport have extended their media rights partnership ©IBU

Eurovision Sport and the International Biathlon Union (IBU) have announced their long-running media rights partnership has been extended until 2026.

The new agreement will officially begin in 2022 and run for four years.

The IBU and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which runs Eurovision Sport, have an option to extend the agreement for a further four-years.

“We are thrilled to renew our longstanding partnership with Eurovision Sport," said IBU President Olle Dahlin.

“The agreement reflects the popularity of biathlon in Europe and around the world and the huge appetite there is to watch our events.

“The significant revenue increase will guarantee that our sport, our athletes, our national federations and our organising committees can develop according to the objectives set out in our strategic plan Target 26.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Eurovision Sport and its rights-holding members will have access to all annual World Cup events.

This agreement also covers the annual World Championships, the IBU Cup, Youth World Championships and the European Championships.

The IBU says it ensures continuing free-to-air coverage of elite biathlon competitions to a worldwide audience on multiple platforms.

It has been claimed that since the first agreement between the IBU and EBU was signed two decades ago, audiences across Europe have grown and the value of the contract has multiplied over the period.

The number of territories in which the IBU Biathlon World Championships are shown has nearly doubled since the start of the partnership, while coverage by EBU members has reportedly led to the number of hours viewed tripling.

The agreement was signed at the IBU World Championships in Antholz-Anterselva ©Getty Images
The agreement was signed at the IBU World Championships in Antholz-Anterselva ©Getty Images

Recent editions of the World Championships have seen EBU members achieve strong live-market shares for their coverage, with NRK in Norway leading the way with an 82 per cent share.

SVT in Sweden and YLE in Finland have reportedly received shares of 79.1 per cent and 73.3 per cent in their nations.

“It’s truly breath-taking to see the outstanding development of biathlon in free-to-all media over the last decades,” said Stefan Kuerten, Eurovision Sport executive director.

“We are proud to be IBU’s media partner since the very beginning.

“The reason for the success is the mutual commitment to our partnership and our common goal to reach the widest audience possible.”

The new agreement was signed at Antholz-Anterselva in Italy, where this year's IBU Biathlon World Championships took place.

A total of 48 million hours of action were claimed to have been viewed during the first four days of competition across the key markets of Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Russia, Slovenia and Sweden.

Russia and France reportedly enjoyed the largest surges in their average audiences compared to last year’s World Championships, with figures reportedly rising by 86 and 25 per cent respectively in the countries.