Qatar's beIN Sports completes Digiturk acquisition

DetailsRebecca Hawkes | 15 July 2015

Al Jazeera affiliate beIN Sports has accomplished its long anticipated buyout of Turkey's leading pay-TV platform Digiturk, for an undisclosed but locally reported sum of between US$1 billion and $1.5 billion.

Digiturk, which has 3.3 million subscribers, holds the lucrative rights to broadcast Turkish Football League matches until the 2016-2017 season.

The company was a key component of billionaire Mehmet Emin Karamehmet's Çukurova Holding company until 2013, when 47% of Digiturk was seized by The Savings Deposit Insurance Fund for Turkey (TMSF) over unpaid taxes. US-based Providence Equity is also a key shareholder in the pay-TV operator.

Nasser al-Khelaifi, chief executive, beIN Sport, called the acquisition "a key milestone in our global expansion ... Expansion into the Turkish market is a natural next step". The network has already expanded from its Middle East base to Europe, the Americas and Asia.

The Digiturk takeover by Al Jazeera has been rumoured since 2013.

"For the Qataris, the acquisition of Digiturk serves a plethora of strategic goals, like expanding the global sports media franchise that beIN Media Group controls," Constantinos Papavassilopoulos, senior analyst, IHS TV Intelligence, said in December 2014.

He said the jewel in the crown for beIN Sport would be "taking full control of the most premium content in the Turkish TV market, the broadcasting on an exclusive basis of the local Sport Toto Football League matches up to 2017 – the largest generator of revenues in the Turkish pay TV business."

The deal remains subject to regulatory approval.