By Andy Sambidge
Qatari broadcaster signs agreement with ESPN Star Sports to show cricket matches
Qatar's Al Jazeera Sports has struck a deal with ESPN Star Sports, the Asian media rights partner of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), to broadcast the Friends Life Twenty20 (T20) tournament this summer.
The agreement, which includes live coverage of 25 matches from the domestic English T20 league, marks the first time Al Jazeera Sport has broadcast a cricketing event to its TV audience across the Arab world.
The announcement comes just hours after Al Jazeera reportedly missed out on rights to broadcast coverage of the English Premier League.
Al Jazeera, which beat Canal Plus to the French Ligue 1 and Champions League rights last year, was thought to be part of the bidding process but the Premier League awarded rights to BSkyb and BT.
Anurag Dahiya, senior vice president, corporate development and cricket rights, ESPN Star Sports, said: "We are very pleased with the strong interest shown by Al Jazeera Sports in cricket. These arrangements promise to extend the popularity and reach of ECB's events with the aim of raising the profile of the sport in the region, building on from last year's highly successful ICC Cricket World Cup."
ESPN Star Sports licenses ECB broadcast rights throughout the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Asia, after recently renewing its association with ECB for $200m in a seven year deal that expires in 2019.
The Friends Life Twenty20 2012 league runs until 24 August.