FOX Sports (NASDAQ:FOXA) have acquired the US media rights to the Saudi Pro League, a source close to the matter revealed to World Soccer Talk.
As part of the agreement, FOX’s rights agreement begins with the 2023/24 season opener on Friday, August 11. While no coverage plans have been revealed as of press time, the season runs through the end of May, 2024. Importantly, the rights deal includes both English- and Spanish-language broadcasts.
World Soccer Talk reached out to FOX Sports for comment, but they did not respond.
How the deal was struck
Per sources, IMG met with several different broadcasters in the United States with the intent on selling the rights as a two-year deal. In particular, the deal caught the attention of FOX Sports and FOX Deportes.
It’s our understanding that IMG is providing the world-feed from London, England as well as on-site. Sources have told us that IMG tried to hire accomplished commentator Callum Williams to call the games for English-language audiences. As a former commentator for the BBC, Williams has worked as the lead announcer for Minnesota United, and this year joined the MLS Season Pass commentary team. However, Williams turned down the opportunity to concentrate on his work in the United States.
Saudi Arabia has big plans for league
The growth of the Saudi Pro League is part of a long-term project for the sovereign state. Saudi Pro League is working towards Saudi Vision 2030, an ambitious government program launched to expand its economy and create a vibrant society.
Just in the last few weeks, the Saudi Arabian league has succeeded in agreeing deals with other international broadcasters. For instance, DAZN acquired the UK rights to the league as well as Germany and Austria. Meanwhile, in France and Africa, Canal+ has picked up the rights.
Saudi Pro League on FOX features a stellar list of stars
Apple and MLS Season Pass have Lionel Messi, but the addition of the Saudi Pro League brings a stellar lineup of top professionals to viewers in the United States.
Other than the Ronaldo factor (who signed a $211 million/year deal) and Karim Benzema, the Saudi Pro League features an all-star cast of former Premier League footballers. They include Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez, Roberto Firmino, Jordan Henderson, N’Golo Kante and Ruben Neves. Brazilian footballers Alex Telles and Malcom also joined the Saudi Arabian league this summer.
Looking ahead to the Saudi Pro League schedule for the first few weeks of the season, all games kick off at either 11AM ET or 2PM ET. For instance, Al-Nassr’s first game of the season, starring Ronaldo, is on Monday, August 14 at 2PM ET.
In total, there are 18 teams in the league. Four of the teams have 75% ownership by the Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. That quartet features Al-Nassr, Al Hilal, Al Ahli and Al Ittihad.
Photo: IMAGO / Power Sport Images
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