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K League announces domestic broadcasters for season start

K-League match between Pohang Steelers and Ulsan Hyundai at Pohang Steelyard on March 3, 2012 in Pohang, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Korean football’s K League has announced new domestic broadcasters ahead of the planned restart of its season this Friday, May 8.

The K League said pay-television broadcaster JTBC would be the ‘lead broadcaster’ for the 2020 season. There will also be live matches this season carried by sports broadcasters skySports, IB Sports, and Life and Sports TV.

JTBC, skySports and IB Sports will together show live coverage of 90 per cent of top-tier K League 1 matches this season. Sports TV and IB Sports will show live matches from the second-tier K League 2.

The league is expected to announce one more domestic media-rights deal this week.

A new K League media-rights cycle begins this season. The K League earlier this year announced it had entered talks with JTBC as its “preferred negotiating partner” for its domestic rights for the 2020 season onwards. SportBusiness Media reported in February that the deal under negotiation was for four years, 2020 to 2023.

The K League’s announcement of the coverage by JTBC and the three other broadcasters is the first official confirmation of completed domestic deals for this season.

The JTBC Golf & Sports channel will show three matches this weekend from the top-tier K League 1, including the season opener, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors vs. Suwon Samsung Bluewings, on Friday evening, and one match each on Saturday and Sunday. JTBC Golf & Sports was until this March called JTBC3 Fox Sports, under a partnership with international sports broadcaster Fox Sports.

JTBC Golf & Sports will also show a special documentary on Thursday evening, The Rival, charting the league’s biggest rivalries since its formation in 1983.

Meanwhile, skySports will show two live K League 1 matches this weekend, one each on Saturday and Sunday. IB Sports will show the Saturday evening K League 1 match, at 7pm.

Sports TV will show four K League 2 matches live, on its Life Sports TV and Daily Sports TV channels, two each on Saturday and Sunday. IB Sports will show the Sunday evening K League 2 match live, at 6.30pm.

The league was last week buoyed by the news that all K League players, coaching staff and support staff tested for Covid-19 had tested negative. The testing was conducted between April 27 and 29.

The league’s international rights have attracted increased attention this season, thanks to its looming status as one of the few professional sports leagues worldwide to be running live events. The international rights are being sold by the Sportradar agency.