Canal Plus, the pay-TV heavyweight, has secured rights to soccer’s Saudi Pro League (SPL) in France and Africa for the next two seasons.
The broadcaster will show two matches per week exclusively on its channels in France, with highlights and clips also available through the myCANAL streaming service and the Canal Plus social media accounts.
The latter portion of the competition was shown in France last season by RMC after Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo joined Al-Nassr last December.
The deal was agreed with international sports and entertainment agency IMG, which sells global media rights on behalf of the SPL.
The SPL bolsters Canal Plus’ soccer offering for the upcoming season which includes France’s top-flight Ligue 1, the English Premier League, UEFA Champions League, and D1 Arkema, the French women’s league.
Several rights deals have been struck for the SPL ahead of the 2023-24 season which begins on Friday (August 11) with Al-Ahli facing Al-Hazm in the opening game.
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Already this week, SPOTV, the pan-regional sports channel of South Korean broadcaster Eclat Media, acquired rights in Southeast Asia, while free-to-air commercial network La7 agreed a deal in Italy.
In Brazil, the league will be shown on YouTube channel Canal Goat while coverage in the Middle East will be provided on MBC’s Shahid platform and the Saudi Sports Company’s channels.
It is understood IMG has secured a total of 26 broadcasters for the SPL, with global streaming platform DAZN expected to conclude a deal for multiple territories including the UK, Germany, and Austria.
The top clubs in the SPL have been very active in the transfer market after Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund acquired controlling stakes in the teams in an attempt to grow the national league.
The fund purchased a 75% stake in Al-Hilal, Al-Nassr, Al-Ittihad, and Al-Ahli and each team has made high-profile transfers in recent weeks.
The league has attracted several international players including current Balon d’Or winner Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, and Fabinho at Al-Ittihad, Sadio Mane and Marcelo Brozovic (Al-Nassr), Riyad Mahrez and Roberto Firmino (Al-Ahli), and Kalidou Koulibaly, Edouard Mendy, Ruben Neves, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Al-Hilal).
Elsewhere, Al-Ettifaq signed Jordan Henderson from Liverpool and landed Steven Gerrard as manager.
Image: Kenta Harada/Getty Images