SPOTV, the pan-regional sports channel of South Korean broadcaster Eclat Media, has acquired rights to the Saudi Pro League (SPL) for the next two seasons in Southeast Asia.
The broadcaster will show the top-tier Saudi soccer league in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand.
SPOTV will broadcast 102 matches in the upcoming 2023-24 season, which begins on Friday (August 11) with Al-Ahli facing Al-Hazm in the first game.
Viewers will be able to watch three live matches every match week on SPOTV channels, as well as the SPOTV Now app. Premium subscribers on SPOTV Now will be able to stream matches live on mobile devices or online.
The SPOTV Now platform is available in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore.
The deal was struck with international sports marketing agency IMG which sells global media rights on behalf of the SPL.
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The top clubs in the SPL have been very active in the transfer market after Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) 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).
This comes after Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo joined Al-Nassr last December after leaving English giants Manchester United.
Elsewhere, Al-Ettifaq signed Jordan Henderson from Liverpool and landed Steven Gerrard as manager.
Meanwhile, broadcast rights to the SPL in Italy have been snapped up by free-to-air commercial network La7.
The channel has agreed a two-year deal and will pay around €450,000 ($493,000), according to Italian news outlet Calcio e Finanza.
La7 will replace Sportitalia, the satellite and digital terrestrial broadcaster which showed the Saudi league in the latter part of last season after Ronaldo’s arrival.
Sportitalia had the option to extend its deal but was unable to agree terms on a renewal with IMG.
Elsewhere, global streaming service DAZN is close to securing SPL rights in the UK, Germany, and Austria, it has been reported.
The platform will pay around $500,000 for a one-year deal, according to Bloomberg.
DAZN will show three matches per week, including all Al-Nassr games.
The Riyadh-based team’s opening fixture against Al-Ettifaq on Monday (August 14) is the standout game in the first matchday of the new season.
In the UK, pay-TV giant Sky picked up the digital rights to broadcast SPL games midway through last season after Ronaldo signed for Al-Nassr, but the DAZN deal is the first agreement secured by the league in the UK for a whole season.
It is understood that DAZN hopes to extend its coverage to the US, with negotiations ongoing for deals in more of its territories.
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