SIA Media Group deal grants AFC competitions Eastern European exposure

The Asian Football Confederation has continued inroads into increasing its exposure in European markets by agreeing a broadcast rights deal with SIA Media Group covering Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

The contract includes the 2022 Fifa World Cup Asian Qualifiers Final Round, the 2023 Asian Cup in China, and the annual Champions League club competition in the 2021-2024 cycle.

SIA Media Group operates pay-television channels Sport 1, Sport 1 HD and Sport 2. The deal, brokered by Football Marketing Asia, the AFC’s recently-rebranded exclusive commercial rights agency, will make major AFC national team and club competitions available in these territories for the first time.

Patrick Murphy, board member and chief executive at FMA, said: “The partnership with SIA Sport Media marks another progressive step to increase visibility of and access to AFC competitions in Europe. We look forward to sharing the excitement of Asia’s top national team and premier club football with more markets beyond Asia.”

The SIA Media Group deal comes after the AFC last month sealed the first contract in Europe in its new rights cycle, agreeing a two-year deal across Germany, Austria and Switzerland with sports broadcaster Sport1.

The deal for Champions League rights, covering the 2021 and 2022 seasons, marked the first time that the competition will be broadcast in the three German-speaking countries.
Last year’s Asian Cup, the AFC’s flagship national teams tournament, was broadcast in Germany on Eurosport as part of a pan-European rights deal with the Discovery-owned broadcaster.

Earlier this week, SportBusiness exclusively reported that the AFC and FMA are to renegotiate the terms of their $2.4bn (€2bn) global commercial rights contract covering 2021-28.

The renegotiation has been prompted by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the media and sponsorship rights sales process and on the AFC calendar, and is expected to involve a reduction in FMA’s financial commitments.

FMA is selling the media and sponsorship rights for AFC club and national team competitions in all territories worldwide except for the Middle East and North Africa, where it is only selling sponsorships. The AFC is handling Mena media-rights sales in-house.

FMA has been in the market since shortly after it acquired the rights in 2018, and was in the middle of negotiations with a host of potential partners when the pandemic took hold earlier this year. It is currently selling rights for the 2021-24 period, the first of two four-year cycles.