New TV network purchases rights to all U.S. Men’s World Cup qualifying road matches
North America’s newest soccer-centric cable television network, beIN Sport, made waves on Wednesday when it announced that it had snapped up the broadcasting rights to all remaining U.S. Men’s National Team’s 2014 World Cup qualifying road matches.
A subsidiary of Al-Jazeera, the wealthy, Qatar-based media conglomerate, beIN Sport has already purchased the rights to air several of the world’s top professional leagues, including Spain’s La Liga, the Italian Serie A and the French Ligue 1, in the U.S. The Miami-based network also lured notable on-air talent like commentators Ray Hudson and Phil Schoen and is expected to continue ramping up its content offerings as it seeks to gain a foothold in the U.S. and Canadian markets.
Under CONCACAF regulations, broadcast rights for qualifying matches are controlled by the host nation. So while the U.S. Soccer Federation partners with the likes of ESPN and NBC Sports Network to air U.S. home games, many smaller nations elect to sell off their rights to important games to the highest bidder, as in the case of the USA vs. Guatemala match on June 12, which was only available on pay-per-view.
The USMNT presently sits atop Group A in CONCACAF’s semifinal round of qualifying, with four games remaining against Jamaica, Guatemala and Antigua and Barbuda this fall. beIN Sport USA will broadcast their visit to Jamaica on Sept. 7 and subsequent trip to Antigua on Oct. 12, and if the U.S. advances to the final, “Hexagonal” round of qualifying, all five of the team’s away matches in that stage as well.
The upstart network, which has urged soccer fans to lobby their local cable providers to add it to their packages, has also purchased the available rights to all other CONCACAF qualifiers with the exception of those involving Mexico.