EDIT: Please see post here about recent developments: http://pushforpros.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/iihf-world-championships-iihf-bins-live-youtube-streams/
The news has literally just broken on Twitter with the IIHF announcing that all of the games from the 2012 Ice Hockey World Championships will be streamed live via YouTube.
In a move that resembles the KHL’s startegy of showing games free of charge on YouTube, is bound to attract more fans to look at the games and watch the videos. However, it is still expected that the IIHF will offer paid for packages for the games where you can buy rights to watch the games of your chosen team.
However, the offer is not available to all as some countries have been geo-blocked. The list of Geo-Blocked countries includes: Belarus, Denmark, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine and the USA. EDIT: It has now emerged (at 14:46 GMT) that the games will also be geo-blocked in Finland.
(Edit: I have deleted the paragraph about the Finnish TV rights for the games) I can only suspect that the YouTube streaming would’ve hurt the TV and media partners of the games, though I doubt that the decision to stream the games came from the Helsinki/Stockholm organising committee but from the IIHF itself. However, it is a welcome move to offer the games via YouTube.
I for one (based on my geographic location) applaud the IIHF’s decision to move. It is a bold new strategy and will expose the sport to a wider fan base, which will be great for the sport.
The YouTube channel can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/icehockey.
The schedule for the games is here: http://www.iihf.com/competition/272/home-oc/tournament-info/game-schedule.html Please note that the game times are in Swedish and Finnish times respectively.
Your move NHL!