Setanta Sports has acquired exclusive rights to broadcast soccer’s Saudi Pro League (SPL) in 14 countries across Eastern Europe and Central Asia for the next two seasons.
As part of the deal, the broadcaster will show a minimum of three games per round in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.
Setanta will also show every game featuring Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr.
The deal, which covers the 2023-24 and 2024-25 seasons, was brokered by international sports and entertainment agency IMG, which sells global media rights on behalf of the SPL.
IMG is understood to have secured deals with more than 25 broadcasters in over 130 territories.
In recent days, deals have been struck with DAZN in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, and Canada, Canal Plus in France and Africa, SPOTV in Southeast Asia, and La7 in Italy.
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In Brazil, the league will be shown on the Canal Goat YouTube channel while coverage in the Middle East will be provided on MBC’s Shahid platform and the Saudi Sports Company’s channels. TV Azteca, the Mexican commercial broadcaster, also secured broadcast rights ahead of the first match of the 2023-24 season.
IMG is slated to provide broadcast feeds from its hub in London, UK, and will also have on-ground coverage.
The 2023-24 season begins today (August 11) with Al-Ahli facing Al-Hazm in the opening game.
Saudi’s biggest clubs have been very active in the transfer market after the country’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 including the likes of Karim Benzema, Sadio Mane, N’Golo Kante, Riyad Mahrez, and Roberto Firmino.
The addition of the SPL bolsters Setanta Sports’ soccer rights portfolio which includes the English Premier League, EFL Championship, FA Cup, and Carabao Cup, Spain’s LaLiga, Italy’s Serie A, the German Bundesliga, French Ligue 1, Scotland’s SPFL, and the Belgian Pro League.
Outside of soccer, the broadcaster also holds rights to motor racing’s Formula 1, basketball’s NBA, ice hockey’s NHL, tennis’ WTA, ATP, and Wimbledon, rugby union’s Top 14, European Tour Golf and the Masters, and the UFC mixed martial arts promotion.
Image: Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images