EXCLUSIVE: TV chief hopes to strike deal with ADMC to continue football coverage.
Showtime Arabia revealed on Tuesday it is to hold talks with Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC) after losing out to its rival in the battle to show English Premier League football.
Marc-Antoine d’Halluin, president and CEO of the pay TV service provider, exclusively told Arabian Business that Showtime hopes to carry Abu Dhabi sports channels which air all Premier League matches from 2010 onwards.
Dubai-based Showtime unsuccessfully bid to extend its three-year contract, which expires next May when the 2009-10 season ends.
“What we are hoping to achieve is to reach an agreement with our friends at Abu Dhabi media in order to continue securing the Premier League on the Showtime platform,” d’Halluin said.
“This would be achieved by Showtime distributing the Abu Dhabi sports encrypted channels on our platform.
“Abu Dhabi will associate their name with the Premier League, which we think is a great thing because already the city, as we all know, is closely associated with the league through Manchester City. We see the logic in this association and Premier League matches being featured on an Abu Dhabi channel.”
Talks between Showtime and ADMC have yet to take place, with d’Halluin insisting he is in no hurry to start negotiations.
“There is no rush because the Premier League season 2009-10 is going to be broadcast exclusively on Showtime,” he said.
On July 3, ADMC announced it had secured rights to show Premier League football on its sports channels for three seasons starting from Aug. 2010.
The unexpected announcement led to suggestions that Showtime subscription numbers among sports fans could drop once its Premier League contract runs out.
But d’Halluin insisted the TV company has several other channels and shows to satisfy existing customers and entice new ones.
He said: “If we were not able to reach an agreement I would be disappointed, but Showtime is not limited to the Premier League in any way or form.
“It is a premium pay television platform that features movies, series, a lot of third party channels totalling more than 40, and sports with Premier League golf, rugby and now cricket. The dependency of Showtime vis-a-vis the Premier League is extremely limited.
“Rights come and go, but at the end of the day what is more important is the platform and our subscribers know we will bring them the very best entertainment.”
d’Halluin said he saw no reason why Showtime could not agree a deal with ADMC. But he insisted any failure to finalise a tie-up would not spell disaster for the company.
He added Showtime’s recently launched high definition channel, which will air movies, TV shows and Premier League football for the coming season, was just one feature that would excite viewers.
“There is not a month at showtime where we are not innovating by launching new products and concepts and I would expect this to remain the case,” he said.
“We are not limited to the Premier League and there are other sports and things we can bring. We are the premium pay TV platform in the region, which means we bring the very best of Western and Arabic entertainment.”