Sport the key to winning the broadcast battle

Arab Digital Distribution has announced three major sports deals in its on-going drive to become the leading digital broadcaster in the Middle East

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By  Barnaby Chesterman Published  March 28, 2001

Arab Digital Distribution (ADD) is targeting sport to head a new campaign aimed at winning over its Middle East audience. Through a succession of recent announcements, it is clear that ADD sees sport as the most important medium with which to capture the Arabic audience and keep it.

ADD claims to have secured the exclusive rights to screen the English Premier League for the next three years. The English Premier League is the most popular football competition for Middle East viewers with an aggregate weekly audience of 12.8 million in the Middle East and Africa region.

The matches will be broadcast on ADD’s ART Sports network. An ART spokesperson spoke of the company’s delight at having secured the popular footage. “The decision by ART shareholders to secure the rights to the Premier League as a premium international sport for the Middle East demonstrates the commitment to pay TV and in particular exclusive sport by the group,” he said.

ADD also revealed the addition of two new exclusive sports channels. SuperSport, an international sports channel from M-Net, will be offered to ADD subscribers in Egypt, and Real Madrid TV is the second unique football club channel that ADD has signed to offer customers all across the region after having already secured MUTV.

And to add a local touch to its announcements, ADD also announced a deal with Middle East rally car champion Mohammed Bin Sulayem to endorse the Al Awael, Pehla and FirstNet TV bouquets. ADD claims the endorsement deal is the first time and Arab sports-personality has linked up with a satellite TV network to endorse a sports channel line-up.

Sulayem was delighted to have signed up with ADD and was full of praise for the network’s sports coverage. “There is a common synergy between us particularly as ADD’s Al Awael bouquet offers exclusive coverage of international Formula 1 racing, which aside from rally cars is another passion in my life,” he said.

Dr. John Tydeman, ADD CEO, said that Sulayem would only add to the prestige of the sports network in the Middle East. “With such a strong sports line-up on our three networks, we felt it was natural for one of the Middle East’s top sportsmen to join hands with Al Awael and Pehla/FirstNet,” he said.

ADD has also announced that both Eurosport and Nile Sport will be encrypted as part of the expanded ADD sports package. ADD will now have nine sports channels spread across its three bouquets. “The sports channels cover the full range of sports events ensuring that every taste has been catered for while concentrating on the region’s major love – football,” enthused Tydeman.

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