Al Jazeera acquires Super League and NRL rights in France

Pay-television broadcaster Al Jazeera has acquired rights in France for two rugby league competitions, the English Super League and Australian National Rugby League, according to the Fédération Française de Rugby à XIII, the sport’s governing body in France. Both deals are for three years, from 2012 to 2014.

Charles Biétry, the director of Al Jazeera’s French sports pay-television operation, told newspaper l’Independent that rugby league would “be one of the main thrusts” of the broadcaster’s two channels, which are due to launch in May, June or July this year.

The French rugby league federation told TV Sports Markets that Al Jazeera had purchased the rights for the Super League from UK pay-television broadcaster BSkyB. Sky is the Super League’s main domestic rights-holder in the UK under a five-year deal, from 2012 to 2016.

French interest in the Super League is driven by the participation of French team the Catalans Dragons.

Al Jazeera has, ahead of the launch of its French pay-television service, also acquired domestic rights for Ligue 1 football, from 2012-13 to 2015-16, and Uefa Champions League football from 2012-13 to 2014-15. The broadcaster is also reported to be close to a deal with Uefa, European football’s governing body, for Euro 2012 football.