By Infont Sports

Culminating in a tight 3-2 win by Sweden over Switzerland after a penalty shootout, the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Denmark marked another record-breaking season for the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).

Infront – the exclusive media and marketing partner of the IIHF for the World Championship – joined forces with the IIHF and the Local Organizing Committee to deliver a spectacular tournament for fans in the stadium and those watching on TV.

Thanks to this collaboration, winter sports’ biggest annual event also became the biggest event (sport or non-sport related) to be hosted in Denmark to date.

Exceeding expectations

More than 520,000 people headed to the ice rinks to witness first-class live ice hockey action, marking the sixth-highest attendance in the history of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.

Once again, Infront guaranteed extended TV coverage, ensuring broadcasting in over 160 territories. This resulted in over 8,000 hours of coverage worldwide and a cumulative audience of 1.237bn, making it the third highest audience figure in the history of the tournament.

The final between Switzerland and Sweden notched a peak of 2.5m viewers on Swedish TV3, for a sensational 80 per cent viewing share. Swiss fans tuned in to keep the dream alive of seeing Switzerland crowned champion with the average viewership peaking at around 1.5m, a clear record number for the Alpine nation.

These figures position the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, staged in Copenhagen and Herning from 4 – 20 May 2018, as one of the most successful to date for the International Ice Hockey Federation.

Bruno Marty, Infront Senior Vice President Winter Sports: “It is the third year in a row that we have reached such numbers at the World Championship and doing so with a first-time organizer like Denmark means even more. We are very proud of the tournament we have delivered along with the Organizing Committee and the IIHF. This motivates us even more to keep working hard to grow the sport of ice hockey worldwide, also through the organization of world-class events like the one in Denmark.”

Henrik Bach Nielsen, President of the Danish Ice Hockey Federation and IIHF Council Member: “It is a great achievement for the Danish Ice Hockey movement, especially if we consider that it was the first time that Denmark was hosting this major tournament. We had a great response from the people, a lot of enthusiasm and great attendance. I would like to thank the whole team working on the World Championship, including the valuable support of Infront as our Joint Venture partner and the IIHF. With this success, we can start dreaming and we look forward to hosting the World Championship again in the future.”

Virtual advertising

One of the biggest highlights of the tournament was the introduction of virtual advertising brought by Infront in partnership with tech-company Vizrt for the first time in the history of the World Championship. Four rink boards of four meters each at the Royal Arena in Copenhagen were virtually overlaid using an innovative, machine-learning driven solution. Spectators in venue saw green IIHF branded boards, while fans watching on TV in Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus saw a completely different sponsor message. This initiative outlines the potential of virtual advertising, which allows brands to regionally market messages on a global level, delivering new value to sponsors – and more relevance for fans.

Increased fan engagement

To improve fan engagement, Infront integrated new partners into the media offering. The results brought added value to the tournament with WSC, for example, automatically producing over 5,000 professional quality videos. The best of those videos were shared across IIHF social platforms combining to reach over 12 million views.

This year, IIHF and Infront’s digital team also introduced a completely new, redesigned IIHF event website to complement a more engaging social media strategy. Using a new tone of voice and more live content, over 4,200 posts (including over 1,400 videos) were published across all social media channels.

Slovakia 2019 – Already focused on the future

The focus is already on next year’s tournament in Slovakia from 10 to 26 May 2019 in the cities of Bratislava and Kosice. It will be the second time (after 2011) that Slovakia hosts the World Championship independently. The game schedule was released earlier in August and will see Group A play in Kosice and Group B in Bratislava.

Get a complete overview of the schedule through the link below:

Looking further ahead, after Slovakia the next World Championships are already set to take place in Switzerland in 2020, Belarus and Latvia in 2021 and Finland in 2022.