beIN SPORTS to keep on fighting despite losing LaLiga rights, says exec

In an exclusive interview with World Soccer Talk, executives from beIN SPORTS today explained that the network will continue broadcasting in the United States with its offering of leagues and cup competitions from around the world even though it has lost its flagship property, Spain’s LaLiga, to rivals ESPN.

“This is just a very rational decision,” explained beIN SPORTS’ Managing Director for the U.S. and Canada Antonio Briceño. “It’s based on ensuring the sustainability of our presence in this market. Sometimes in business, you have to make tough decisions, and this was a difficult one. We’ve been with [LaLiga] since the beginning of this channel [in 2012], but times have changed, and we need to adapt to make sure the business stays, and that it’s not just attached to one or other rights. We’re a sports channel and we will continue to deliver a product for the fans out there with the properties that will remain that we believe are very strong.

“From my financial perspective, it was an offer that made my business P&L (profit and loss statement) look good, but it goes beyond the financials. There are many different factors that [resulted] in that decision. And yes, it was a tough decision. We believe that beIN SPORTS has been instrumental in growing the brand of LaLiga in the U.S. Actually, the fact that [LaLiga] are willing to buy back the rights from us is also due to the work we’ve done for them.”

 

World Soccer Talk asked how confident and stable beIN SPORTS is about its future in the United States.

“We are absolutely here to stay,” Briceño said. “I was one of the first ones [in 2012] that fought very hard to include those [LaLiga] rights in our portfolio. I believe we’re doing the same kind of work [for other leagues and competitions] that we did with LaLiga.

“Before beIN SPORTS, those rights were not given the proper treatment they deserved. And now with us, we’re making the brand of Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana grow. I think with Ligue 1, it’s been an extremely good property for us. We’re serving a niche of the population, that is a fact. And I think we will continue to super serve that niche in a very meaningful way. And we believe that [TV providers] will see this in the same way.”

Asked whether Ligue 1 will be featured more prominently across its array of networks next season, Briceño said, “There will be more dedication and coverage to Ligue 1, so now we’ll not have the conflict of times and content that we had up until now.”

In addition to retaining the exclusive U.S. rights to Ligue 1 through the end of the 2023/24 season, beIN SPORTS have the rights to PSG friendlies, the PSG women’s team, Coupe de la Ligue, Coupe de France, the aforementioned Copa Libertadores/Copa Sudamericana, the Turkish Super Lig, CAF Champions League, African cup competitions and NISA, as well as a host of other sports.

beIN SPORTS are not stopping there.

“We are going to continue to explore and observe what properties are out there that make sense that we can hopefully acquire,” Briceño said. “[Losing the rights to LaLiga], I think, opens up an opportunity for us to be more flexible and to look at [acquiring rights to] certain sports that are growing in this country and that are of interest to the general market population.”

Last but not least, we asked whether Briceño and beIN SPORTS regretted filing a carriage complaint with the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) against Comcast arguing that the cable provider was discriminating against beIN SPORTS and beIN SPORTS en Español. Ever since then, beIN SPORTS has seemingly been fighting an uphill battle and it appears that no ground has been achieved in trying to get beIN SPORTS back on Comcast Xfinity and DirecTV.

“No, absolutely not,” Briceño said. “I will do it all over again if I have to. We believe in our subscribers and we believe our ultimate responsibility is with them. The reasons we got out of those two operators, which I respect and appreciate — and I have friends within, will remain the same. We will not budge for lower rates for no reason.”

beIN SPORTS will continue to be an important overseas partner for LaLiga, continuing to broadcast Spanish football’s top division in more than 35 countries spanning three continents across the world, including France in Europe; 11 countries in Asia Pacific, and the 24 countries of the Middle East & North Africa. beIN and LaLiga will also continue their renowned alliance and partnership on anti-piracy – where they are industry-leading – and various activations ahead of the Qatar World Cup 2022.

 

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