After months of negotiations, Al Jazeera Sport has secured the rights to exclusively air English Premier league football matches in the MENA region through 2016, the network has announced.
The agreement, which the channel reached with media broker MP & Silva for an undisclosed sum, makes the channel the “exclusive media rights holder to all 380 Barclays Premier League matches across all media platforms and devices in the MENA region that comprises 23 countries.”
Speculation was rife over who would acquire the rights to air the matches, which kick off next month. Abu Dhabi Media, the previous rights holder, had also been bidding as a way to extend its broadcast deal.
But as early as last month, media sources said Al Jazeera was likely to get the rights, after ADM reportedly offered to pay less than half the $360 million that it paid for the rights to the 2010-2013 seasons, Al Arabiya reports.
In a statement, Al Jazeera Sport chairman Nasser Al Khelaifi said:
“We are extremely excited by the addition of the Barclays Premier League for the next three year cycle, the value that this can add to our customer proposition and extending further our portfolio of top European football.”
Al Jazeera, which will launch three new HD channels to show the matches, has secured other top broadcasting deals internationally and at home in recent years.
Speaking to Al Arabiya last month, Nick Grande, the managing director of Dubai-based TV consultancy Channel Sculptor, said:
“AJSC have been aggressively targeting premium regional and international sports rights (and in particular football) for more than five years. They already have the FIFA World Cup, the UEFA Champions League, the Spanish, Italian and French leagues. If anything it’s a surprise that the EPL has escaped their grip for so long,” he said.