Al Jazeera Hoping To Expand U.S. Market Share Through BeIN Sport
It is “unclear” whether Al Jazeera's new U.S.-based network beIN Sport’s “buying spree is designed to make money, to raise its global brand or to perhaps provide leverage to get United States exposure for its news network,” according to Ken Belson in a front-page piece for the N.Y. TIMES. beIN Sport’s “bold entry into the American market befits its deep-pocketed owners, who appear committed to becoming a major player in soccer.” It could “make an even bigger splash if it bids in the coming months for the rights to broadcast England’s Premier League in the United States … as well as Major League Soccer, whose broadcast rights expire in 2014.” New beIN Sport announcer Phil Schoen said, “It’s not just the ethnics, soccer moms and urban singles. To make such a commitment really says something about how beIN Sport feels about the future of the sport in this country.” Belson notes the net “has reportedly paid Comcast to be carried to the cable company’s 22 million television subscribers, rather than being paid by Comcast.” But it may be “months if not years before fans throughout the country can see the network in their homes.” GolTV COO Rodrigo Lombello, whose company was outbid by beIN Sport for the U.S. rights to Spain's La Liga, said, “If the soccer industry in the U.S. remains a business driven by economics, I think everyone will be successful. But if the industry is going to be a toy for the sheik from Qatar, then I don’t know what will happen.” Fox Soccer Exec VP & GM David Nathanson said, “Bottom line, there’s always been competition in this field” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/31).
SOONER RATHER THAN LATER: In Philadelphia, Jonathan Tannenwald wrote Comcast and beIN Sport “agreed [to] a carriage deal last week, but it was never quite made clear when the channel actually would show up on local televisions.” A source said that Comcast “plans to have the channel up and running by September 6.” It will only be available “in standard definition, and you’ll have to subscribe to the sports channel tier to get it.” Tannenwald: “You can complain about the lack of a HD feed if you want, but I'd rather watch a game on an accessible cable tier in standard definition than have to buy it on pay-per-view” (PHILLY.com, 8/30).