Al Jazeera Now Has All The Soccer, Will Launch Two Channels To Bring It To You

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Written By Chris Azzopardi

Al Jazeera, the television broadcaster owned by the government of Qatar and noted for its in-depth coverage of the Arab Spring uprisings, has scooped up US rights for several big-time soccer properties in the last year, including La Liga, Ligue Un, Italy’s Serie A, the Copa America tournament, and South American qualifiers for World Cup 2014. The network will launch two new soccer-only channels, called beIN Sport, to distribute them.

On the surface, this sounds like good news. Two new soccer channels in the US will only increase the viewing options for a country already spoiled for choice. It’s not certain, however, which television providers will pick up the channels (set to launch August 1st), and Al Jazeera stated it has no plans to sub-license any of their rights. Sub-licensing is the mechanism by which ESPN broadcasts the English Premier League and La Liga; Fox is the primary rights holder for the former, GolTV the primary rights holder for the latter.

Ominously, the vice-president of the Miami-based company Al Jazeera has contracted with to handle distribution and technical support, Imagina US, says fans may need to “switch providers” to get access to the 1300 games beIN Sport will broadcast.

Because South Ameican qualifiers begin before the beIN Sport launch, some of those games may be made available through pay-per-view.

With Al Jazeera taking La Liga rights from GolTV, we can’t help but wonder what this means for the future of America’s favorite poetic commentator, Ray Hudson. During the rise of Barcelona to the pinnacle of world football, Hudson’s calls have been a constant soundtrack of the exploits of Messi and Co. (also, he said flowery things about Real Madrid).

The managing director of beIN Sport says the networks have already secured two major distributions deals. Cross your fingers yours is one of them, or get ready to change providers. There are also rumors that Al Jazeera will make a major push for the Barclays Premier League rights when bidding for the 2013-16 seasons begins in the late summer or early fall.

Source: Multichannel

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