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Wed 2 Feb 2011 04:05 PM

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Gulf TV networks priced out of Premier soccer rights, says OSN

OSN boss says prices paid by state media firms impossible to compete with

Gulf TV networks priced out of Premier soccer rights, says OSN
BIG DEAL: Showtime Arabia lost the exclusive rights to air Premier League football matches in April 2010, when Abu Dhabi Media Company bid a rumoured $300m for a three-year deal (Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)
Gulf TV networks priced out of Premier soccer rights, says OSN
(Getty Images)

State-backed media firms in the Gulf have a near monopoly on TV rights for top footballing events as their deep pockets can out-bid rival networks, the CEO of Orbit Showtime Network (OSN)  has said.

Showtime Arabia lost the exclusive rights to air Premier League football matches in April 2010, when Abu Dhabi Media Company bid a rumoured $300m for a three-year deal.

This and similar bids are leaving commercial TV networks out in the cold as they are unable to match privately-funded stations on price, said David Butorac.

“The people who own the Premier League today cannot make money for what they’ve paid,” he told Arabian Business. “There are people who are paying for sports rights in this market that have no commercial imperative to make money.”

As a result, broadcast rights are being sold for increasingly sky-high sums, he added.

“The issue with sports rights is this market, is the sports rights have gone for uneconomic rates.”

Doha-backed Al Jazeera Sport last week secured the first broadcast deal for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups.

Commercial rights to last year’s South Africa game were sold for $3.4bn.

Butorac, who took over as CEO of the Dubai-based firm in October, wouldn’t confirm how many subscribers OSN lost of a result of the Premiership League loss but said the impact on the network’s bottom line was minimal.

“We lost more in costs than we lost in revenues so it was actually a positive impact on our margins - losing the Premier League,” he said.

“That said I would love to have the Premier League, I would love to be in a position where all of the best sport in the world appeared on our platform.”

Asked if OSN would bid again, Butorac said he would do so but within a reasonable margin.

“We’ll bid rationally because irrational financial decisions cannot continue to be made.”

OSN was formed through a merger between Showtime Arabia and Orbit in 2009.

For all the latest sports news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
Omar Shamma 8 years ago

In my opinion the OSN model of cable/satellite TV is uncompetitive. It cannot compete with free to view satellite channels or with state backed TV channels, whether for sports, news or entertainment.

I do not subscribe to OSN, but I have ample free to view channels covering all that OSN can provide. Value capture through advertising seems to be the current winning formula.

I do not understand why OSN should complain. Deliver to the consumer some value over the other TV distribution models and you can grow your business. It's innovate or die!

Masaofou Khalid 8 years ago

Well for those who don't know. The 'Premier' League or EPL was formed around 1991 if i remember correctly. Prior to that it was know as Division one i think. It was the Fox Network's U.K equivalent 'Sky' that basically gave creation to privatising viewing rights. It all began back then, since that time people have had to pay vast sums of money to watch football. That has since made players wages higher, made the transfer market what it is today, made EPL basically excessive in everyway. Rupert Murdoch can take credit for that.

So bidding 300million is actually cheap comparatively. What needs to change is maybe have a Competition Authority, an authority who can step in and say so and so network cannot splash 300 million on something that is being sold for say 50 Million, as that is anti competetive.

I'm glad OSN lost the rights, since the merger, all content is now censored. ALL timings are incorrect. Programmes basically begin whenever they want. Bring back Showtime Arabia

Mohammed Al Ali 8 years ago

ok how much OSN paid then? How much OSN bid for the Premier League ?