Great Britain's men's and women's teams are involved in Olympic qualifiers in January in their bids to make the Paris Games this summer - and you can watch them live on the BBC red button.
The women's qualifying tournament is being held in Valencia, Spain, whilst the men's tournament is in Oman. The BBC has provided an article explaining the format of the tournaments.
It's important to be aware of how sports are chosen on BBC Sport and what it means for hockey. Success is based on viewership thresholds, with the current benchmark set at an average of 50,000 viewers for more than 15 minutes. It's been a few years since hockey was shown a free-to-air channel outside of a multisport event and previously we have fallen short of this BBC Sport threshold by some way. TNT Sports has also recently not renewed their contract to show hockey, so currently hockey is only available to watch via a subscriber-based streaming platform watch.hockey - which is realistically unlikely to attract many new people to our sport.
So the more people that watch, the greater the chance that more hockey will be shown on television and England Hockey (EH) are appealing to hockey club members to lend their eyeballs for the cause.
Nick Pink, CEO of England Hockey, said: "I’m thrilled to kick off the new year with exciting news – the January Olympic Qualifiers will be broadcast live on BBC Sport. You can catch all the action from 13-21 January as the GB men's games unfold in Muscat, Oman, and the GB women's games light up Valencia, Spain, accessible through the red button, BBC iPlayer, and the BBC Sport website. This presents a golden opportunity for hockey to showcase its brilliance and establish our game as deserving of future free-to-air opportunities.
"In September 2023, we unveiled our ambitious five-year organisational strategy with a mission to elevate hockey's visibility, relevance, and accessibility for all. This broadcast marks a significant milestone in achieving that mission. We are determined to ensure our international matches captivate larger and more diverse audiences and inspire fans and players of the future."
"However, we need your help to make this a reality."
While some sports such as football and rugby thrive in this space, Olympic sports like ours struggle due to escalating rights fees and dwindling broadcast budgets. Last November, BBC Director of Sport Barbara Slater highlighted the challenges, stating that "TV rights for blue riband events such as the Six Nations have more than doubled in the past decade, yet the corporation’s budget has gone down by 30% in real terms" (The Guardian).
Despite these factors, BBC Sport and the FIH have generously provided us with this golden opportunity for the future of our game.
In the coming days, England Hockey will be doing their part by promoting this event through press and social media coverage. While media coverage is crucial, they are asking club members to share their love for the game with friends, family, teammates, and those outside the sport.
Spread the news, tune in to watch the games, and cheer on our GB teams.