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

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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), Marca.com (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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Anniversary: PUNCHERS perfect winning strategies as Agali opens Media Amalgamated training

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With just eight more days before the kick-off of the highly anticipated novelty match between The PUNCHERS and Media Amalgamated team as part of celebrations of the 50th anniversary of The PUNCH, The PUNCHERS worked on their winning strategies on Friday at the Mountain Top University, Magboro, Ogun State.

 

The PUNCHERS go up against Media Amalgamated, a select group of journalists from Tribune, Nation, Vanguard, ThisDay, Leadership, Telegraph and The Guardian newspapers at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan, Lagos February 24.

 

The highly anticipated and potentially explosive novelty match marks the commencement of an array of epoch-making activities for the 50th-anniversary celebration of Nigeria’s most-read newspaper.

 

In the second training session held at the team’s home ground, Mountain Top University, along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the PUNCHERS, with 31 players from different departments of the company and coaches by AFCON 1992 bronze medallist, Friday Ekpo, intensified training ahead of the clash.

PUNCHERS’ veteran midfielder, Godspower Otor, said along with his teammates, they would concentrate on training and do their talking on the pitch.

“I read what one of our opponents said that they would flog us and I just laughed,” he said.

 

“We will allow them do their talkings in the media while we focus on training and allow the results to do justice. We are focused and training hard, our coach Friday Ekpo is not leaving any stone unturned as he ensures we get our movements and tactics right.

Friday’s training focused on our strategy, which we will perfect before the game day and I am sure we will be ready for the encounter.”

 

The PUNCHERS will have their third training on Saturday (today) as they intensify preparations for the novelty game against Media Amalgamated.

 

Former Super Eagles forward and bronze medallist at the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations, Victor Agali, has been handed the task of coaching the Media Amalgamated team, who have their first training session today at the Legacy Pitch of the National Stadium, Lagos.

 

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Ivory Coast vs. Nigeria: How to watch Africa Cup of Nations, TV channel and live stream

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The Africa Cup of Nations will see a true heavyweight clash as hosts Ivory Coast take on Nigeria in Group A.

Back on Saturday, Les Éléphants started AFCON off well, notching a 2-0 win over Guinea-Bissau in the tournament’s opening match.

However, one day later the Super Eagles were stunned by Equatorial Guinea, and needed a Victor Osimhen goal to come back for a 1-1 draw.

That leaves Nigeria in need of a result — and possibly even a win — to avoid a must-win situation during the final round of group-stage matches. A loss would leave a star-studded side on the brink of elimination.

For Ivory Coast, meanwhile, a win would guarantee a place in the knockout stages, and a draw in Group A’s other match would secure the top spot in the section.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the match.

Ivory Coast vs. Nigeria (AFCON)
When: Thursday, Jan. 18
Where: Olympic Stadium of Ebimpé (Ivory Coast)
Time: 12 p.m. ET
Channel/streaming: beIN SPORTS, Fubo

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Elegbeleye: NPFL Broadcast Rights still Available, No Exclusivity

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Companies seeking to acquire Broadcast rights of the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) have been invited to approach the league body with offers for negotiation.

Chairman of the NPFL, Hon Gbenga Elegbeleye on Wednesday clarified that the adopted marketing approach of the board is for non-exclusivity which has not foreclosed the signing up of more rights holders.

Elegbeleye described as shocking, claims by an individual alleging that there was an offer for $11m dollars to the NPFL for the rights before the StarTimes deal was executed.

“For the avoidance of doubt and for public records, the NPFL and StarTimes deal took months to conclude and all through the duration of our negotiations, nobody approached us with any offer”, explained the NPFL Chairman.

He further narrated efforts of the defunct Interim Management Committee (IMC) to attract a Broadcast partner including getting the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) to broker a meeting with Supersport which at the end didn’t express interest in taking up the offer.

“The NPFL has an office in Abuja and the facilitator of the said $11m offer knows this place and has contacts of the NFF President. We are still very much open to negotiating as our deal with StarTimes provides for a third-party investor. 

“Let the person please come to our office or to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) because we are still open for more partnerships in the Broadcast space”.

The NPFL boss explained that the unbundling of the broadcast bouquet has made it possible to accommodate multiple partners

“It is obvious that we have unbundled the broadcast products and segmented the number of matches any rights owner can show every matchday. So there is still a window to accommodate genuine interests in our league broadcast partnership”, declared Elegbeleye, who also is the NFF’s Second Vice President.

Faulting claims that the League fail foul of the Public Procurement Act which governs sales of government assets in the country, the former member of the Federal House of Representatives, said, “The NPFL is incorporated as a private company limited by guarantee at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and is not captured in government funding.

“We do not receive funding from the Government but run our programme from money generated through sponsorships and we operate a transparent system that accounts for sponsors/investors’ funds to maintain the integrity of the league.

“In any case, we have made sufficient noise right from the inception of the IMC and we were able to have the very successful Super 6 on television, so there’s no person in the industry who is not aware that the League hasn’t been on television for the past six years. Where were they”? he retorted.

So far, the NPFL has secured two Broadcast Partners in Propel Sports Africa (PSA) for the Over The Top (OTT) platform and StarTimes for the Direct To Home (DTH) cable platform.

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