UEFA European Championship live – It’s all about the cover

The European Football Championships begin on 10 June in Paris’ Stade de France. The event is to be shown on television worldwide – as will be the subsequent 50 EURO 2016 matches. But what will happen if there are unexpected technical malfunctions and transmission problems? What coverage concepts can TV channels use to hedge against the enormous financial losses that would then occur?


The relevance of these questions is proven by looking back at the 2012 European Championships in Poland and Ukraine. At the time, the publicly financed TV channel ZDF had secured the broadcasting rights for the match between the host, Poland and Germany. However, just a few hours before kick-off, there was a short circuit in the channel’s outside broadcast van. A fire broke out and the footage captured by ZDF cameras in the stadium could not be broadcast. Instead, fans in Germany were shown a Polish TV transmission – which was at least accompanied by live commentary in German. But the day was far from saved. The problem was that without its own video control set-up, the channel was unable to digitally display the agreed advertising on the banners at the edge of the pitch. At the time, ZDF forecast that the losses from this alone would total €600,000 to €800,000.

The 2015 Oscars were another prominent loss example in the German TV market.

Thousands of film fans had set their alarm clocks so they could get up during the night and watch the live broadcast of the 2015 Academy Awards from Los Angeles. Instead, after the gala opening, these viewers were faced with a frozen image and the word “Disturbance” and missed the first award. This was due to an error in the satellite transmission. The channel – this time not a public broadcasting company, but a private one financed by advertising – reacted quickly and apologised for the malfunction that same night on Twitter. The disappointed viewers were quicker though, and had already expressed their frustration there and on other online platforms.

TV transmission risks through the ages

That alone is already enough of an annoyance for production companies and TV channels. But it is often also joined by financial losses – for instance because contracts with advertising clients could not be upheld. Special contingency insurance for media broadcast disturbances, which originated in the 1970s, offers protection against these financial risks. Back then, live transmissions via TV satellites were still events that filled entire concert halls. The technology required to receive the satellite pictures and broadcast them publicly had only just been developed, and was prone to bugs. This represented a big risk for the event organisers, as they were regularly forced to return disappointed patrons’ admission if there was a breakdown.

Not until the technology advanced did the large TV channels enter into this business and offer live broadcasts on televisions in people's own homes. Today the development has taken another step forwards in the form of pay-per-view: A growing number of customers are deciding what they want to watch on TV and when they want to watch it, and they are willing to pay for that individualised service.

This process of evolution is also reflected in the range of TV contingency insurance policies available. The insurance industry has developed three different forms of basic cover:

Contingency insurance for closed TV broadcast events

This basic form of TV contingency insurance covers the risk of an event organiser that wishes to broadcast a TV event against payment of an admission fee. If the broadcast cannot take place for technical reasons, the insurance company bears the financial loss of having to return the admission fees. The policy generally comes into play both in the event of problems with the satellite connection, of power outages and of defects in the receiver or projection technology.

TV transmission interruption insurance

This kind of cover is aimed predominantly at TV stations that are responsible for the broadcast. Because, if there is a defect, they bear the risk of losing some or all of the fees they would earn in connection with the broadcast. Providers can cover their risks with the corresponding policy.

Pay-per-view cover

The demand for pay-per-view cover has been on the rise for years. That is because private TV stations are increasingly offering their customers pay TV. They pay a predetermined fee and can then watch films or sporting events on offer. If this service fails because of a lost satellite connection, for example, customers can demand a reimbursement of their fee. The pay-per-view policy protects providers against this risk.

Individually tailored solutions from Munich Re

Thanks to the technological progress, major transmission malfunctions are comparatively rare nowadays. So, with the exception of pay-per-view cover, the demand for independent TV contingency insurance has fallen to a minimum. It is, however, more important than ever as supplementary policies for event contingency insurance – such as for large concert tours or international sporting events like the European Football Championships – because with events like that, the amount of money in question is enormous. Just imagine the millions that will be claimed by advertisers and sponsors will make if the EURO 2016 final takes place as planned on 10 July, but cannot be broadcast for technical reasons. In this field of business, where high amounts insured are involved, Munich Re is one of the world’s leading reinsurers, and it develops individually customised solutions.