Al Jazeera unit to bid for US Premier League TV rights

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The league made around GBP£1.4bn (US$2.3bn) from overseas bradcasting rights during the last three years (Getty Images).

The league made around GBP£1.4bn (US$2.3bn) from overseas bradcasting rights during the last three years (Getty Images).

BeIn Sport, the TV sports channel operated by Qatar-based Al Jazeera, is one of the bidders reportedly in the running to net the broadcasting rights for the English Premier League in the Americas.

The rights to screen the prestigious English football league in the US, Canada, South and Central America, the Caribbean and Brazil are up for renewal in 2013 and a decision on the winning bidder is expected to be made next month, according to a report by Bloomberg.

The league made around GBP£1.4bn (US$2.3bn) from overseas bradcasting rights during the last three years and the next round of three-year contracts are expected to reap even higher revenue, the report added.

Fox Entertainment Group currently holds the rights to screen the Premier League, with Walt Disney’s ESPN, Qatar’s BeIn Sport and NBC Sports reportedly among the bidders looking to gain the rights until 2016.

Earlier this summer, Al Jazeera reportedly lost out on the rights to screen the Premier League in the UK to BSkyB and British Telecom.

BSkyB has secured five packages totalling 116 matches while BT won two packages totalling 38 matches in deals worth GBP£3.02bn.

Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera, which beat Canal Plus to the French Ligue 1 and Champions League rights last year, was expected to be part of the bidding process.

Al Jazeera is taking aim at Europe's pay-TV market, using sport to build a global media brand, just as owner Qatar is raising its profile by hosting the 2022 World Cup.

The sports world is also buzzing with anticipation that Al Jazeera, with Qatar's gas and oil wealth behind it, could put big money on the table to bid for rights to global sporting events.

"The Qataris see sport as being an entree for themselves on the world stage, and the next piece in the jigsaw puzzle is a really big rights acquisition," said Graham Shear, a lawyer specialising in sports matters.

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