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Fox Sports, DAZN deals bolster IMG’s Saudi Pro League distribution



Saudi Pro League rights deals with Fox Sports in the US, Canal Plus in France and sub-Saharan Africa, Sport TV in Portugal and a multi-territory agreement with DAZN are the standout agreements secured by IMG ahead of the 2023-24 season.

The agency has distributed the international rights in over 130 territories ahead of this weekend’s opening fixtures with the slew of star players boosting the global footprint and rights fee returns.

Fox Sports has signed off on an agreement in recent days to ensure mainstream broadcast coverage in the US market, SportBusiness understands.

DAZN also this week finalised a two-year agreement for rights in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Canada and Belgium. IMG benefited from stiff competition in France to land a two-year deal with pay-TV broadcaster Canal Plus. The agreement also extends to sub-Saharan Africa.

In Portugal, the only market in which IMG delivered a rights fee of substance during the 2022-23 sales process given local interest in Cristiano Ronaldo, pay-TV broadcaster Sport TV announced its extension earlier this month.

Elsewhere in Europe, IMG has secured deals with La7 (Italy), (Spain), Cosmote (Greece), Prima Sports (Romania), Setanta (CIS countries, Baltics and Ukraine), A1 Bulgaria / Max Sport (Bulgaria) and Supersport (Albania and Kosovo).

The inventory on offer to global broadcasters has increased from two games per matchweek last season to three this season.

IMG recently extended its international sales remit to cover the 2023-24 and 2024-25 seasons. It has also taken on the production of the live world feed, including graphics and English commentary. The IMG-owned Seven League is managing the SPL’s social channels and digital content.

Following Ronaldo’s arrival at Al Nassr, IMG secured distribution through 48 broadcasters in over 170 countries for the remainder of the 2022-23 season. The agency was encouraged to maximise distribution over rights fees in a bid to build exposure for the league ahead of the surge of high-profile player arrivals.

Elsewhere, broadcasters to have secured rights ahead of the 2023-24 season also include:

  • Azam (East Africa)
  • Azteca (Central America and Mexico)
  • Band and Goat (Brazil)
  • Bilibili, K-Ball, Migu, Tencent and Zhibo8 (China)
  • Ten (Australia)
  • Sony/Culver (Indian subcontinent)
  • SPO TV (Southeast Asia, Korea and Japan)
  • Sporty TV (Nigeria and Ghana)
  • StarTimes (Sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa)
  • Zap (Angola and Mozambique)

Ronaldo’s arrival in January sparked the first wave of international rights deals, albeit none particularly lucrative. IMG’s agreement for the second half of last season was a revenue share, and rights fees were modest.

In the UK and Ireland, IMG dealt with pay-TV broadcaster Sky, which streamed matches on its YouTube channel, and paid no more than $10,000 (€9,000) in total, while a non-exclusive approach was adopted in Germany, with agreements with ARD and ZDF, Bild, Sky and Sportdigital Fussball totalling no more than $20,000.

A full breakdown from SportBusiness Media of SPL rights fees for last season can be read here.

This summer there has been a dramatic transformation, with the SPL moving from a regional league with little international interest into a major player in the global football transfer market. Spending on high-profile players over the summer is in excess of $450m (€408m), with one month of business still to be done, albeit the investment has largely been targeted on a handful of the 18 top-flight clubs and as such there is little demand as yet for all matches to be made available internationally to broadcasters.

Major players to have moved from European leagues to the SPL this summer include: Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kanté and Fabinho (Al-Ittihad); Roberto Firmino, Allan Saint-Maximin and Riyad Mahrez (Al-Ahli); Jordan Henderson (Al-Ettifaq); Kalidou Koulibaly, Ruben Neves, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Malcolm (Al-Hilal); and Sadio Mané and Marcelo Brozovic (Al-Nassr).

IMG’s agreement with the SPL excludes the Middle East and North Africa, where the league has a deal with the Saudi Sports Company. Viewers in the Mena region plus Chad, Djibouti, Mauritania, Somalia, and Sudan can still watch SPL matches via local channels on the Arabsat platform.

Before Ronaldo’s competitive debut, the SPL had been streaming matches globally on Twitter. However, that service was then restricted to just dark markets in which IMG had not sold the rights.

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Sportfive nets third-party rights to Brazil, Argentina’s home W/Cup qualifiers




A key piece of the puzzle in the South American media-rights market has been solved ahead of the Conmebol Fifa World Cup qualifiers that get underway this week, with the Sportfive agency landing rights for matches involving Brazil and Argentina.

Sportfive has secured exclusive third-party media rights (territories outside of the two countries playing) to all home 2026 World Cup qualifiers of the two South American giants, having reached an agreement with two agencies: Brax for Brazil’s rights and Torneos for Argentina’s.

Brazil’s first home game in the World Cup qualifiers is against Bolivia on September 8, while world champions Argentina kick off their campaign tomorrow (Thursday) at home to Ecuador.

In addition, Sportfive will sell third-party media rights for all home friendlies played by Brazil outside of the Americas. This was a long-term contract previously held by the UK-based Pitch International agency that expired after the 2022 World Cup.

It is a significant contract win for Sportfive and comes less than a year after Pedro Cubillos returned to the agency tasked with overseeing media rights acquisitions and sales across Latin America.

Cubillos was with Lagardère Sports – renamed Sportfive in 2020 following the takeover by H.I.G. Capital – for close to a decade. In 2019 he set up Tribe Sports Marketing agency with former colleague Marco Gonzalez.

Thomas Klingebiel, president of media at Sportfive, said: “We are thrilled to have secured these exclusive media rights for the South American World Cup Qualifiers. This agreement reinforces Sportfive’s commitment to delivering top-tier sports content to a global audience.”

South American football governing body Conmebol does not sell collective rights to World Cup qualifiers in the region. Rather, the football federations sell domestic and international rights to their respective home qualifiers and friendlies on an individual basis.

It means last-minute deals have often been required to ensure widespread exposure of the Conmebol World Cup qualifiers.

Just this week, SportBusiness reported clarity over Bolivia’s matches, after the Bolivian Football Federation (FBF) was granted domestic rights to its home World Cup qualifiers after a court ruled against a claim from Mediapro and Sports TV Rights, which bid for the rights in a tender earlier this year.

The FBF was granted a ‘constitutional protection’ by the Departmental Court of La Paz that will enable the federation to exploit the rights on its own FBF Play streaming platform, rather than selling the rights to a third party such as Sports TV Rights or Mediapro.

Days earlier, and before the FBF had the legal right to sell Bolivia’s matches, Brazilian broadcaster Globo secured exclusive rights to the home matches of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela.

This secured the broadcaster’s near-universal coverage of the qualifiers in Brazil, as it had already retained domestic rights to the Brazilian national team’s home World Cup qualifying matches and friendlies until 2026.

Mediapro holds international rights to all of Peru’s home qualifiers and friendlies over the quadrennial period between World Cups. It also holds global media and marketing rights to the international matches of Chile in conjunction with the 1190 Sports agency over the 2023-26 period.

Aside from the individual sales, a quartet of South American football associations banded together in May to sell media rights to their home 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers on a collective basis, in what experts regarded as a step in the right direction for the region’s international football rights market.

The Uruguayan Football Association (AUF), Paraguayan Football Association (APF), Ecuadorian Football Federation (EFE) and Venezuelan Football Federation (FVF) issued a joint Request for Proposal (RFP) on May 18, initially giving interested parties until June 8 to submit bids. No deals have been confirmed following the tender, however, Mediapro is understood to be the favourite to acquire the rights.

Six South American nations will qualify automatically for the 2026 World Cup in USA-Mexico-Canada (up from five at Qatar 2022) and with one other entering an inter-confederation playoff, only three nations will be automatically ruled out of qualification.

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BeIN Sports records 93.5 million total views for FIFA Women’s World Cup




The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 garnered a record-breaking cumulative viewership of 93.5 million across the region, beIN Sports revealed.

The Qatar-based network provided exclusive real-time coverage for all 64 matches of the tournament in both the Arabic and English languages.

“When we launched our beINSPIRED initiative on the eve of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France in 2019, the aim was to help grow under-represented sports and one of our focuses was women’s football,” said Mohammad Al Subaie, CEO of beIN – MENA.

“This year’s Women’s World Cup expanded from 24 teams to 32 teams, yet what we have witnessed this past month shows that not only is interest growing in the region, but the way fans follow the game is evolving too. With a cumulative viewership of over 93m tuning into our linear coverage from across the region, the growth of women’s football is undeniable, and we are very proud to be helping drive that.”

How the Women’s World Cup has inspired Qatar’s generation of young athletes

Major events like the semi-finals and final, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies, were televised on beIN Sports’ free-to-air channel as part of the network’s push for the visibility of women’s sports.

The tournament was held in Australia and New Zealand where almost two million spectators were attended the matches in person– a notable increase of over 600,000 compared to the previous record.

Spain faced off against England at the final in Sydney to lift its first World Cup title following an intense 1-0 game.

Deemed as a record-breaking event, women’s national teams from The Philippines, the Republic of Ireland, Portugal, and Morocco played on the global football stage for the first time.

Morocco’s Nouhaila Benzina also made history by becoming the first player to wear a hijab at a World Cup.

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PANASA Cup: Ghanaian Philanthropist Seeks More Corporate Backing, Media Support For African Scrabble




A very passionate and dependable stakeholder of scrabble in Ghana and Africa, Samuel Mbrayeh Quartey, has described the PANASA President’s Cup as a groundbreaking event as far as the sport is concerned in Africa and the world.

Quartey, who is nicknamed SM Quartey, while speaking at the ongoing PANASA Cup in Lagos, Nigeria noted the game of scrabble in Africa as it is now not just about getting corporate bodies to throw their weight behind the game, but corporate bodies that are connected and can relate with the sport is what is needed for it to be lifted all round.

“I’m happy to be in Lagos to witness this tournament which I will call groundbreaking. The kind of organization we are seeing here is taking the game of Scrabble to another level. Before the tournament and during the tournament, I have seen a kind of friendship and brotherliness among all the contestants. It’s really like coming together of one family and such environment is beautiful,” Quartey told Maxwell Kumoye’s Zeal Media Cast Blog.

Samuel Mbrayeh Quartey, a renowned architect and philanthropist is excited with the standard of organization of both the President’s Cup and the African Youth Scrabble Championship which Ghana is fully represented in.

“The organization, the set-up, the ambience, fresh customized boards for everybody, the officiating, the quality, everything associated with it, it’s the height of scrabble, it’s a spectacle and I’m happy to be here watching it.” he stated.

SM Quartey further stressed that Ghana and other African countries should build on the success story of the Pan African Scrabble Association (PANASA) President’s Cup. “Am happy to be here in Lagos with our director from the Ministry of Sports in Ghana, we have been taking lessons here, and we to go back home and replicate what we have seen here.”

On the issue of corporate backing and support, the Post Graduate Diploma holder in Architecture, from the prestigious Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology of Ghana,

On the issue of corporate sponsorship, the graduate of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology of Ghana said: “Scrabble as a game is best supported by people who have love for the game, not just corporate bodies who have no connection with the game, so some of our old enthusiasts who are concentrating on their corporate businesses, it’s about time we knock on their doors and say come and show some love and support to our common joy, which is scrabble.”

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