MBC had purchased the rights with a paid model in mind while the Kingdom's authorities are now looking to maintain free-to-air football, says Sam Barnett. rn
The exclusive broadcast rights to Saudi Arabias Professional Football League matches, which MBC Group had secured as part of a ten-year, USD 1.09 billion deal in 2014, have now been given to state-owned Saudi Telecom Group (STC) for a reported $1.8 billion by KSAs General Sports Authority.
The MoU with STC includes exclusive rights to Saudi Arabias Professional Football League and domestic matches, the national teams games, sponsorship rights and the General Sports Authority (GSA) contests. It appears that the deal with MBC, therefore, has been rendered void.
The new MoU was signed by Turki bin Abdulmohsen Al-Sheikh, Chairman of the Board of Directors, General Sports Authority; Dr. Khaled Al-Bayari, Executive Chairman of STC and Dr. Adel Ezzat, Chairman of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) in Riyadh.
Speaking exclusively to BroadcastPro ME about the turn of events, Sam Barnett, CEO of MBC Group said: The strategy for sports has changed in the Kingdom. When we took the rights in 2014, the idea was to go with the model that worked elsewhere in the world, which was to try and create premium league football, encrypt it and generate pay revenues, which would then feed back to the clubs. They were looking to develop the football sector in Saudi. Since then, the environment has changed and the authorities and the Federation want to maintain free-to-air football. Clearly, we had bought the rights on a different model so this does not come as a shock to us.