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Fans will be able to catch Giants on free-to-air TV after EIHL's deal with FreeSports


By Adam McKendry

The Belfast Giants will be hitting free-to-air TV for the next two years after the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) agreed a broadcast deal with FreeSports UK.

The channel, which is run by Premier Sports - which will this year show all of Ulster Rugby's Guinness PRO14 matches live -will broadcast a live EIHL game every other week in accordance with the new deal.

In weeks without a live game there will be a highlights show on a Wednesday night, while the channel will also produce a pre-season preview show.

It means fans who can't make it to the SSE Arena or to away games will get the chance to enjoy the Belfast Giants live for free, with all 11 teams in the league given equal coverage.

EIHL chairman Tony Smith said: "I'm delighted we've been able to agree a deal with FreeSports to show free ice hockey to fans on television.

"With the success of the Great Britain national team, one of our young players, Liam Kirk, drafted to the NHL and the standard increasing every year, it's something we were keen to tie up.

"FreeSports' relationship with the sport, particularly in this country, is a healthy one and I'm pleased to see the Elite League join that stable in helping promote top level ice hockey from the UK."

Well-known commentator Aaron Murphy will spearhead the coverage and will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the role having worked at the Winter Olympics, NHL and the World Championships with FreeSports.

"It's brilliant to see the EIHL coming back to our TV screens, joining a great stable of hockey alongside the CHL, NHL, KHL, SHL and IIHF events on FreeSports," Murphy said.

"For fans to be able to see more of the domestic competition is a positive step forward. On the back of the Team GB success as well, it'll be nice for people to see those players suit up for their club as well as the national side.

"I can't wait to get back calling the games, as I always enjoyed broadcasting the EIHL in the past. This new chapter will be fantastic on free-to-air TV and we aim to expose the league to new viewers who will hopefully become part of the passionate fan bases of all 11 teams."

Richard Webb, operations director at FreeSports, added: "Our ice hockey coverage on FreeSports continues to grow and we're delighted to have the Elite Ice Hockey League on board."

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