June 12 – The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has issued an RFP (request for proposals) covering broadcast rights for 10 Middle Eastern territories.
The four-season rights cycle will cover 2021 to 2024 and includes the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 and FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifying Final Round, as well as the flagship club competitions – the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup.
Other rights include the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 and both men’s and women’s age group and futsal events.
The AFC said that: “Separate RFPs will be issued for each of the territories of Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Syria and Yemen. The RFPs will be available to eligible broadcasters and media companies from 16 June 2020.”
Currently the bulk of the AFC’s rights are held by Qatari-owned beIN Sport on a pan-regional basis. beIN has been in dispute with Saudi Arabia over sports broadcasts that have been pirated and unfettered in the country by beoutQ, beIN is outlawed in Saudi Arabia as it is in the UAE.
The AFC has made it a condition that “are lawfully entitled to operate television services and/or distribute audiovisual content in the relevant Territory”.
Separate tenders will be conducted in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, as well as in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
While the issue of the piracy and the Qatar-Saudi Arabia stand-off undoubtedly shapes the wording of the RFP, it also marks a shift towards a rights auction that will not necessarily be based just on the TV broadcaster coming to the table with the biggest number.
Key for AFC sponsors is to be able to get their messages to as broad a regional audience as possible. More importantly that means the ability to deliver greater localisation to the sponsor and opportunities to engage national audiences. That can mean better outcomes for the sponsors as well as increased revenues for the broadcaster and the AFC as rights owner.
It is a rethink of the broadcast model successfully implemented by Concacaf for their blue riband Gold Cup last year.
Similarly the AFC is emphasising the ability of the broadcaster to engage with local fans to support the growth of the local game.
“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,” said the AFC.
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