Sponsorship & Broadcast Deals: Saudi Arabia

Goals

To provide information on the AFC Cup and the Champions League broadcast and sponsorship details in the Saudi Arabian market or MENA region. Specifically, for each deal, this includes the property, the brand, the monetary value, the length of the partnership, and any relevant information included as rights.

Early Findings

  • For this research, "Champions League" refers to the top-tier AFC Champions League in Asia and not the UEFA Champions League.
  • "The bulk of the AFC’s rights are held by Qatari-owned beIN Sport on a pan-regional basis." However, as of March 2019, "AFC removed from beIN Sports exclusive rights in Saudi Arabia to its competitions, claiming the move will help it tackle the illegal exploitation of its content.
  • Since AFC opted to broadcast the matches involving Saudi Arabia teams played in Saudi Arabia in AFC competitions on its geo-blocked digital channels AFC Champions League Facebook Live and AFC YouTube," it implies that BeIN Sports was the sole broadcaster in Saudi Arabia. More so, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) declared that BeIN Sports was a monopolist in the Saudi market on "Asian continent matches and competitions in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."
  • Furthermore, "the AFC went on to reissue an invitation to tender (ITT) for its Saudi Arabian media package to show club and international soccer from 2021 to 2024, after canceling BeIN Sports’ exclusive rights deal." "The proposed package includes rights to the national team tournament, the Asian Cup, and the Asian qualifying competition for the 2022 Fifa World Cup. Rights to club competitions include the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup, plus the 2022 Women’s Asian Cup."
  • "The ITT notes that the AFC media rights partner will need to demonstrate state-of-the-art broadcasting, engaging and informative programming, and creative as well as innovative media output which showcases the competitions and encourages their continued growth – both at national and club level."
  • Currently, it appears that the AFC is yet to strike a deal with any broadcaster because recent reports suggest that the body will conduct separate tenders or RFPs in Saudi Arabia after it "initiated a territory-by-territory broadcast rights sales process in 10 countries across the Middle East."

Summary

  • In our one-hour, preliminary research, the research team found that there's apparently no broadcaster that owns an exclusive right to view the Champions League, the AFC Cup, and other sporting content in Saudi Arabia because the football body removed the rights owned by BeIN Sports.
  • Due to time constraints, we could substantially research into specific sponsorship deals that are not tied to viewing rights. Although such information may be limited. For example, SEIKO signed a three-year sponsorship deal with the AFC Champions League in 2014 but it wasn't specific to Saudi Arabia.

Research proposal:

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