Al Jazeera 'could challenge Sky' for Premier League rights
Premier League clubs could be in for another massive television cash windfall with a serious challenge to Sky's domination of top-flight domestic TV coverage by Al Jazeera now a "realistic prospect", according to the European head of ESPN.
The possibility of the Qatar-owned broadcaster going head to head with Sky has been speculated on ever since it beat Canal Plus to the French Ligue 1 and Champions League rights.
Now Ross Hair, head of ESPN for Europe, Middle East and Africa, believes Al Jazeera are likely to challenge Sky - a move which if successful would pose a serious threat to the Murdoch-owned satellite broadcaster.
The spin-off of a bidding war for the clubs could be a lot more cash for the 2013-16 domestic rights - the current three-year deal is already worth £1.782billion.
Hair told the Evening Standard: "We're expecting another Premier League auction in April or May. An Al Jazeera bid is a realistic prospect.
"They have done something very interesting in France in buying first division football against the incumbent satellite broadcaster Canal Plus and we've also looked at what they've done in other markets.
"You can draw parallels with the upcoming auction in the UK. Al Jazeera have the ambition to grow further in sport and into other markets."
ESPN are also set to bid as they are desperate to retain their foothold in the Premier League market - they currently show 23 live matches a season.
Premier League football has been the driving force of Sky's satellite TV success in the UK but they have not had a challenger of such potential threat before.
The financial muscle of Qatar has seen Al Jazeera become a major player in football rights, a process that accelerated when the Middle Eastern country won the right to host the 2022 World Cup.
Latest in Sport
Monaco is a street circuit where driver ability is more important than anywhere else and if we take ...
by Gareth Purnell
24 May 2013 02:00 AM
Three weeks ago as I drove off the Eurostar, I remember thinking what a very long time it was until ...
by Martin Ayres
23 May 2013 05:29 PM
McDowell did brilliantly to land the World Match Play title in Bulgaria last week, but it’s a format...
by Gareth Purnell
23 May 2013 09:13 AM
- 1 Man and woman arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder victim of Woolwich machete attack, named as Drummer Lee Rigby
- 2 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
- 3 Grace Dent: I’m not sure how these people can avoid being called ‘bigots’. And the more ‘civilised’, the worse they are
- 4 Woolwich murder: They killed, then they performed - these men should be starved of our attention
- 5 Woolwich attack: The EDL will seek to exploit this evil crime for their own evil ends
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.