Behind the Deal – is the IFSC President hiding?
Apr 9, 2017 — Over the last few days, there have been several developments regarding the IFSC & FloSports live-streaming deal. It was wonderful to watch this weekend's competition free on YouTube, but the future of live-streaming for the sport still hangs in the balance. We've been asking ourselves, if this deal is so obviously bad, why did IFSC announce it in the first place?
We've spoken with IFSC directly to try and find answers. Here is what we've learned so far about their decision-making process regarding live-streaming:
• IFSC have refused to provide us with evidence that they engaged in professional consultation with a third-party regarding live-streaming solutions, prior to (or during) negotiations with FloSports.
• No evidence of consultation with the community, athletes or IFSC partners.
• We were told that negotiations with FloSports took a year, and that they will have a single-day meeting with FloSports during the week to revise the deal.
• According to IFSC, future live-streams and full replay access will still require a FloSports subscription. We were told that select highlights will be available for free on YouTube after each event.
• No tender process. FloSports was awarded the contract because they were first to approach IFSC and are more reliable than YouTube according to IFSC.
• According to a not-for-profit marketplace watchdog, Better Business Bureau, FloSports has 96% negative reviews. Users have reported poor stream quality, dropped coverage, incorrect billing and poor customer service – https://www.bbb.org/central-texas/business-reviews/internet-services/flosports-inc-in-austin-tx-1000108975
• IFSC insist that YouTube officials said YouTube was not suitable for long live-streams. IFSC refused to send us their email correspondence with YouTube in which these claims were allegedly made.
• We were told that sponsors see little value in a YouTube live-stream and pushed instead for a monetised television network deal. We were not provided details on who those sponsors are.
• IFSC told us that most issues relating to stream stability at past events were caused by YouTube and not due to internet connection issues, encoding issues or on-site hardware issues.
• Despite telling us that a lack of sponsor funding and monetisation is the catalyst for change, IFSC refused to provide specific costing details, records of how money has been spent on live-streaming in the past or future cost projections.
• IFSC did not specify the status of the deal. We have not been told what agreements have been signed between IFSC and FloSports.
On the IFSC homepage, Marco Maria Scolaris (IFSC President) promotes "good governance", "transparency" and "athletes [sic] inclusion in the IF decision-making processes at all levels". Marco Maria Scolaris' job as IFSC President is to govern in a way that reflects those values, not to do the opposite. In this sense, we believe he has failed as IFSC President. With climbing en route to the Olympics, we feel the federation needs a stronger, more qualified leadership team than ever – and one that practices the values it preaches.
Marco Maria Scolaris, if you are listening, come out of the dark and give the international community the honest, transparent response they deserve.
For a highly in-depth breakdown of everything so far, make sure you read this article by Liam Lonsdale – http://www.liamlonsdale.com/journal/ifsc-flosportpt-ii
Cover photo by Liam Lonsdale – © L LONSDALE 2017
An important note: We all need to keep in mind that IFSC were not obligated to provide us with any evidence or information. What you read above has derived from extensive conversations with IFSC and our own research. We will continue to stand up on behalf of the international climbing community by questioning and openly investigating the decisions made by the federation.