Monday, October 28, 2013

We knew it

TThis weekend as I write being the start of El Superclásico, the first leg of the huge football derby between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF, it came to my attention news that major subscription television carriers had announced they were adding Al Jazeera America to their systems.

Was it coincidence considering Al Jazeera holds United States rights to Liga BBVA?

Think about it. This derby is easily one of the biggest ratings weekends for Al Jazeera in the United States, with it airing on their most popular channel in the States, BeIn Sport, which we've noted both on this blog and It's About TV, a channel on the rise with the demise of Fox's football and motorsport channels. They held the rights this past season for World Superbike and World Motocross, and with Fox effectively winding down their Supercross coverage after the 2014 season because of FS1's Big East basketball coverage clashing with the first half of the Supercross season, and changes to the Fox MLB coverage taking out the second half, Al Jazeera will take a shot at bidding for Supercross when Feld Motor Sports offers rights bidding for the 2014 Monster Energy Cup and 2015 Supercross seasons [1].

Sen. McCain has been attempting to prohibit the practice of channel bundling, where subscription channels tell providers to carry one channel, you must carry the other channel. This is the strategy I predicted would be Al Jazeera's strategy once they established BeIn. Once BeIn became a larger channel with more clout, as we're seeing now with the second season of football's top stars, and taking advantage of the shutdown of Fox's Charlotte (motorsport) and football operations (though it will restart in 2015 with the Bundesliga and the first of the major tournaments under the 2015-18 and 2019-22 cycles), including carriage of the United States national team's road qualifiers, Al Jazeera is now in the next phase of their expansion strategy. Forcing the carriage of Al Jazeera America as part of bundling BeIn was the next step for Al Jazeera to expand in the United States. Now with the first contract expiring on many outlets, they are now able to build clout to add the channel in the second contract between subscription companies and Al Jazeera.

[1] Because of legal ramifications regarding the breakup of what is now the American Athletic Conference, I had previously referenced the conference as the Catholic Seven (non-FBS schools) until the legal name change was implemented July 1. Feld Motor Sports splits the deal between Fox (rights fee) and CBS (time buy).
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