Qatar-Based Al Jazeera Buys Premier League TV Rights For Middle East, North Africa
Al Jazeera Sport "has bought exclusive media rights to English Premier League" in the Middle East and North Africa for three years starting from next month, according to Ken Ferris of REUTERS. Qatar-based Al Jazeera "reached agreement with TV sports rights firm MP & Silva for access to all 380 Premier League matches across media platforms and devices in 23 countries" from Iran to Morocco, taking in the UAE and Egypt. Former Sky Sports presenters Richard Keys and Andy Gray "will front the English language programmes with Ayman Jada and Mohammed Saadon Al Kuwari presenting Arabic coverage" starting with the '13-14 season, which kicks off on Aug. 17. In January, MP & Silva "trumped its larger rivals Abu Dhabi Media and Al Jazeera to win the three-year contract to distribute Premier League" football in the region (REUTERS, 7/16). In N.Y., Rory Jones reported Al Jazeera Sports has "clinched the rights," scoring the football equivalent of an injury-time winner. Customers of Abu Dhabi Sports, the exclusive Middle East broadcaster for the previous three Premier League seasons, "will now have to switch to Al Jazeera Sports." Speculation in the media industry was that none of the major broadcasters had offered the Premier League close to the $360M that Abu Dhabi Media "reportedly paid in the previous three-year round, and so MP & Silva stepped in to take the rights for an undisclosed price with the aim of reselling them" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/16).
COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE: In L.A., Georg Szalai reported Al Jazeera Sport said it "plans to bring its subscribers complete coverage" of the Premier League, including dedicated studios for both Arabic and English coverage. The Middle East and North Africa region includes such countries as Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 7/16).