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Al Jazeera Sport Buys English Premier League Soccer TV Rights for Middle East

Wayne Rooney - P 2012
British soccer star Wayne Rooney

The network acquires broadcast rights for three years, with its head saying the deal will help "extend further our portfolio of top European soccer."

LONDON -- Al Jazeera Sport has acquired TV rights to English Premier League soccer games for the Middle East and North Africa for a three-year period through the 2015-16 season.

The pan-Arab network, based in Qatar, said late Monday that it will be the "exclusive media rights holder" for all 380 league matches each year across all media platforms and devices in the region, which includes 23 countries.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

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When the Premier League sold its U.K. rights to BSkyB and BT last year, some expected Al Jazeera also would make a play -- but it never was clear if the channel really was looking to enter the British market.

"We are extremely excited by the addition of the Barclays Premier League for the next three-year cycle," said Al Jazeera Sport chairman Nasser al-Khelaifi, highlighting "the value that this can add to our customer proposition and extending further our portfolio of top European [soccer]."

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Said EPL CEO Richard Scudamore, "We are extremely pleased to welcome Al Jazeera Sport as a new partner in the Middle East and North Africa."

The rights were sold by international sports-rights firm MP & Silva.

Al Jazeera Sport said it "plans to bring our subscribers complete coverage of the Barclays Premier League, including dedicated studios for both Arabic and English coverage."

The Middle East and North Africa region includes such countries as Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt.

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai