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Al Jazeera Plans to Kick Off Two U.S. Soccer Nets

5/21/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

A duo of new soccer networks, armed with
some top international club rights, are launching in the
U.S. this summer, backed by Al Jazeera Sports.

Available in both English and Spanish, beIn Sport
is part of the multiplatform sports services launching
across Europe and the Middle East, officials said.

The services, eyeing an Aug. 1 launch, has secured
rights to matches in Spain’s top circuit, La Liga;
France’s premier division, La Ligue Un (English-only);
Italy’s Serie A; the Copa America tournament and
South American World Cup qualifiers ahead of FIFA’s
2014 tournament in Brazil.

Those rights had been divided among existing U.S.
services Gol TV, Univision, Fox Soccer/Fox Soccer Plus
and Fox Deportes.

beIn Sport has contracted with Miami-headquartered
Imagina US to handle distribution
and provide technical
support in this country.

The services say they will
present more than 1,300 live soccer
matches annually via linear
and online platforms to authenticated
viewers.

Yousef Al Obaidli, managing
director of beIN Sport, said in a
release. “We are working together
with Imagina US as our partner,
and we are already in the
last stages of negotiation with
different providers having secured
two major deals so far that
will bring the channel to subscribers’
homes on Aug. 1.”

Antonio Briceño, vice president
of affiliate sales for Imagina
US, told Multichannel News
in an interview: “We don’t expect
to have 100% distribution
at launch, but we will reach
enough homes at launch to satisfy
business plan.”

Briceño would not identify
which providers beIn Sport was
in advanced talks with. But he
insisted the matches would be
available to U.S. soccer fans this
upcoming season.

“You may have to switch providers,”
he said.

At press time, officials at Gol
TV, Univision and Fox Soccer,
who were in Munich for Saturday’s
UEFA Champions League
final between Chelsea and Bayern
Munich, were all unavailable
for comment.

Although beIn Sport won’t
officially launch until August,
the service will begin providing
feeds in June, showcasing
the South American World Cup
qualifiers.

Briceño said Imagina US was
nearing deals for residential
pay-per-view distributions for
the matches scheduled on June
2 and June 9.

Briceño deferred questions
about why the matches were
not being incorporated as part
of programming on Al Jazeera
English, or whether beIn Sports
will participate in the rights auction
for England’s Barclays Premier
League, which is expected
to take place late this summer or
in the fall, to Al Obaidli, who was
not available at presstime.

Al Jazeera English thus far has
only managed to gain limited distribution
in this country.

 

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