beIN SPORT Acquires US Rights to League Cup and Football League Championship

Up until this week, the forthcoming launch of the new soccer channel beIN SPORT had little relevance to die-hard followers of English football in the United States. All that has changed this week with the news that beIN SPORT has acquired the TV and Internet rights to England’s League Cup tournament as well as Football League Championship.

Beginning with the 2012-13 season, beIN SPORT 1 will broadcast matches from England’s League Cup tournament, now known as the Capital One Cup after the new sponsor replaced Carling. Plus, beIN SPORT 1 will show matches from the nPower Championship, the second division in English football and one of the most competitive and entertaining leagues in Europe.

FOX Soccer previously held the rights to both the League Cup and Championship, but beIN SPORT beat the incumbent to the punch.

beIN SPORT is scheduled to launch in the United States on August 15. Based in Miami, the new soccer network will have two channels — beIN SPORT 1 (for English-language broadcasts) and beIN SPORT 2 (for Spanish-language broadcasts). The challenge, however, will be for the network to sign deals with TV providers between now and the launch date to ensure that soccer fans can watch the TV network in the United States.

Executive Antonio Briceno, an executive at Imagina US — the company that’s handling distribution for beIN SPORT, was asked this week when the beIN SPORT would be available via TV providers in the United States. “Nothing is absolute until it is put to paper, but we continue to negotiate. We’re 99% sure there will be at least one distributor at launch, and two continues to be the goal. And we expect more over time.”

Historically, sports networks in the United States have often sublicensed rights to different leagues, even to competitors. However, in the Multichannel News article, Briceno said the “marching orders” remained the same relative to beIn Sport’s plans “not to sublicense any of the rights to the three major league properties.” He said there might be some flexibility with the additional rights that have been acquired.

While beIN SPORT has been busy negotiating with TV distributors, the soccer network recently hired two familiar soccer aficionados — commentators Phil Schoen and Ray Hudson.

In addition to coverage of the League Cup and Championship, beIN SPORT has acquired the US rights to several major soccer leagues including La Liga, Serie A, Ligue Un, Copa del Rey, Copa Italia, Supercoppa Italia, Copa America, South American World Cup qualifiers, Spain’s second division, Barca TV and Real Madrid TV.

In the article that was published by Multichannel News this week, the publication stated that “Although beIN Sports’ game plan still calls to stream channels to authenticated subscribers, the services will not be available at launch.”

For fans of the Championship, the new season kicks off on Friday, August 17. Round 1 of the Capital One Cup, meanwhile, begins on August 11. However, Premier League clubs don’t participate until Round 2 of the cup competition (the draw for which is scheduled on August 15). The second round matches are typically played in late August.

Speaking of the Premier League, beIN SPORT is expected to participate in the bidding for the US rights to the Premier League for the 2013-2016 seasons when bidding is finalized this autumn.

With time running out before the upcoming new season begins, now is the time for soccer fans — like you — to demand that your TV distributor adds beIN SPORT to your channel guide. The only way to move the needle and get beIN SPORT added sooner is by encouraging your TV provider by phone or Twitter to add the network.

Here are the contact details for the different TV providers, listed on the beIN SPORT USA website.

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