Five and a half years ago President Vladimir Putin instructed Gazprom-Media Holding to create a federal Russian sports TV channel on the basis of the Rossiya 2 channel, “Sports Broadcasting” non-commercial organization and several other structures. Since then Match TV has undoubtedly become a key player in sports broadcasting and the main promoter of healthy lifestyles in Russia.
Since Match TV’s launch in 2015, the volume of its sports broadcasts has increased by 34%. Today sports account for about 60% of the channel’s broadcasts. An average of about 9 million viewers watch Match TV every day, and this is despite the cancellation of many competitions due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, which was a big test for the whole sports community. The TV channel produces more than 2,000 broadcasts and shows more than 5,000 hours of sports premieres per year.
“One of the state objectives of our country is to increase the number of people who take part in physical activities to 55% by 2025. Match TV’s development strategy is to become the leading information source for the development and promotion of sport and healthy lifestyles in Russia. By making all possible synergies within the Holding, we continue to hold the viewers’ interest as much as possible, engage new audience members and unite those who love and cheer for sports, all people who care about sport,” said Alexander Zharov, CEO of Gazprom-Media Holding.
The total volume of sports content on Match TV over these past five years added up to 35,179 hours, of which 9,726 hours were live broadcasts (more than 400 days), 1,452 hours were news, and 4,606 hours were broadcasts of the channel’s flagship program Vse na Match! (All to the Match!). There were competitions in 94 different sports shown overall - from the Russian favourites football, hockey and biathlon to the more niche armwrestling, bowling and sumo.
Match TV offered its viewers more than 170 cycles of its own programs, almost 100 documentary films and about 100 special reports. Many of these works received the highest praise from the professional community. Among them, the documentary film Alexander Karelin. Poedinok s Samim Soboy (Alexander Karelin. Bout with Yourself) and the program Totalny Futbol (Total Football) won a TEFI national award in the nomination “Television project about sport”. The channel’s Dmitry Zanin received an Orpheus statuette in the nomination “Reportage reporter/cameraman” for his special “World Cup Live” report, while Dmitry Guberniev won the nominations “Best news program presenter” and “Best sports program presenter/sports commentator”. In total, Match TV won 10 TEFI statuettes and 43 more awards from various contests in just five years on the air.
The channel’s signature programs are its news releases. The world’s biggest sports stars and legendary coaches are regular guests in the Match TV studio. There are 14 news broadcasts each day. In addition to the video sequences, the viewer can get up-to-date information in the news ticker and graphics. The latest results, tables, statistics and best quotes from athletes are shown there. The channel’s sports correspondents go live on air not only from different parts in Russia, but also from around the world.
Equipped with the latest television technology, Match TV continues to increase the number of its broadcasts year after year. At the moment there are almost 8,400 of them and the places from where the channel can get a video signal are constantly expanding. The signal can now be picked up in about 70 Rusian cities, as well as 33 countries, including Brazil, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.
The launch of the new channels Match! Strana and MATCH PREMIER deserves a special mention. Match! Strana started broadcasting on the day when the opening ceremony of the Krasnoyarsk 2019 Winter Universiade was held. Match TV was the official broadcaster of these multi-sport games. Since then, the channel has broadcast more than 14,500 hours of content. The main focus of Match! Strana are domestic competitions and children’s sport. It is also worth noting the monthly program Pryamoy Razgovor s Ministrom (Direct Line with the Minister) in which the Russian Minister of Sport answers the most pressing questions about current issues. Most of these questions come from viewer posts on Match TV’s official social networks.
MATCH PREMIER is a premium channel about Russian and European football. Its broadcasts not only live matches, but also exclusive programs and 24/7 news about football. Moreover, MATCH PREMIER oversees friendly tournaments between Russia’s top football clubs.
Match TV is putting a lot of effort into its digital development. The number of subscribers to its official YouTube channel reached 2.264 million people over the past five years, while its videos on the platform have received close to 1 billion views. About 300,000 videos have been posted on the websites matchtv.ru and sportbox.ru, collectively receiving almost 800 million views. Matchtv.ru has also firmly established itself among the Top 3 most cited sports media outlets in Russia.
Given the current trends in content consumption, when more than half of the video traffic comes from mobile devices, the only way to expand reach and maintain an audience is by increasing presence on own and third-party digital platforms. In this regard, in addition to developing its OTT services, Match TV will continue to work at entering into partnership agreements with the largest players on this market. Since the Match! ecosystem implies presence not only on broadcast TV channels but also on all existing digital platforms, the channel needs to regularly create original adapted content. This content should be aimed specifically at the target audiences of specific media platforms. Match TV’s digital platforms allow it to promote and popularize new emerging sports, notably Esports.
As part of its fifth anniversary celebrations, Match TV established the National Competition for Sports Media Industry Leaders. This year winners will be chosen in 11 nominations. The nominees include not only prominent industry leaders, but also star athletes - those who not only achieved success on the sports arena, but also managed to get the attention of sports fans. They have millions of followers in social networks, popularity online and on television, and they are regularly cited or mentioned in the media. The winner in each nomination will be determined based on an open vote in social networks as well as marks given by an expert jury.
Gazprom-Media Match encompasses two federal TV channels, 11 special-interest channels, two websites, the OTT platform MATCH PREMIER and the Match! mobile app.