Al Jazeera sets sights on English Premier League for UK and MENA
Rebecca Hawkes ©RapidTVNews | 17-10-2011 Al Jazeera Sports is to bid for the rights to broadcast the English Premier League in both the Arab world and on a pay per view basis in the UK, according to football publication Goal.com.
The Doha based satellite network is reportedly seeking exclusive rights to show Premier League matches across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) when overseas bidding for the 2013-14 season begins.
In more of a surprise, Goal.com also claims Al Jazeera is considering entering the UK premium sports market, where broadcast rights to Premier League matches are currently shared between Sky TV and ESPN.
Al Jazeera has declined to comment on the speculation.
Invitations to tender for the next round of English Premier League TV rights are expected to be issued early next year, with winners to be announced in summer 2012. The current domestic rights deal has earned the Premier League £1.782 billion over three years.
Earlier this year, Qatar Government-backed Al Jazeera also made a surprise entrance into the French football arena, after winning not only the rights to broadcast La Ligue matches across the Arab world, but to also share the domestic coverage with Canal+.
As part of the 420 million euro deal, which runs from 2012-2016, Al Jazeera can show two live French league matches a week. It is reported to be launching a new channel in early 2012, managed by Charles Beitry, formerly of Canal+ and Paris St Germain (PSG).
Al Jazeera currently holds the MENA rights for the FA Cup and also the UEFA Champions League - coverage of which is anchored by Gary Lineker and produced by ITV in London. It is also the exclusive broadcaster across the Arab world for the FIFA World Cup in 2014, 2018 and 2022.
Rival Gulf company Abu Dhabi Media currently holds the MENA rights to the prestigious English Premier League which it broadcasts on its Abu Dhabi Sports pay channel via cable, IPTV and online.