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Al Jazeera swoops for Premier League and other football rights in MENA

Qatari pay-television broadcaster Al Jazeera has acquired the exclusive rights in the Middle East and North Africa to English Premier League football in a three-year deal with the MP & Silva agency.

The broadcaster has also announced new deals with MP & Silva and the Pitch International agency for a host of other football rights, including: Italian Serie A, North America’s Major League Soccer, Brazil national team matches, and club channel content from English clubs Arsenal, Liverpool, and Tottenham Hotspur, and Italian clubs AC Milan and Inter Milan.

Al Jazeera’s Premier League deal covers exclusive rights for all 380 Premier League matches per season in the 2013-14 to 2015-16 seasons. MP & Silva had acquired the rights from the Premier League in January.

Rival pay-television broadcaster Abu Dhabi Media Company, the Premier League rights-holder in MENA in the last cycle, 2010-11 to 2012-13, had been strongly interested in acquiring the rights from MP & Silva. They were a high priority for ADMC because it is owned by the Abu Dhabi state, which also owns Premier League club Manchester City.

The Middle East’s third major pay-television sports broadcaster, OSN, also had talks with MP& Silva about the rights.

Al Jazeera’s deal covers 23 territories: Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Algeria, Chad, Libya, Morocco, Somalia, Tunisia, Egypt and Djibouti.

The broadcaster, which has 19 live sports and sports news channels in the region, said it plans to launch three new HD channels to show all the Premier League games.