Dubai: Showtime Arabia is confident of being among the best pay television networks in the region with the bagging of the Premier League rights.
Earlier this week, Showtime Arabia walked off with a huge coup by signing a three-year deal with the English Premier League starting from the 2007-'08 season.
"We broadcast the Spanish and Italian leagues, and now the Barclays English Premiership League will complement these two competitions making us the leading pay television operator in the region," said Azhar Malek, Vice President, Marketing and Public Relations, Showtime.
The Premiership rights are presently held by ART till the end of next season. Qatar-based Al Jazeera was the third television operator in the fray.
Showtime had to stave off bids from both Al Jazeera and ART to get the rights, reported to be in excess of $120 million over the three years.
"It is part of our agreement with the Premiership not to discuss the money involved. All I can say is that the bid price is a substantial sum," Malek said.
As per the initial thought, Showtime will air all the Premier League matches live, while also trying to developing suitable programmes around the games along with interviews and studio discussions.
"This is going to be a huge thing for our subscribers. Besides the leagues, we also have the best of Hollywood and Arabic movies. All this amounts to a total family entertainment," Malek said.
"Acquiring these rights is absolutely in line with our strategy to provide our customers with the very best in entertainment," said Faisal Al Ayyar, Chairman of Showtime Arabia.
"The Premier League's choice of Showtime Arabia is a reflection of our leadership in the Middle East and North Africa region.
"We will work closely with the league to execute a strategy which clearly articulates the high quality value of the competition and leverages the strength of the Showtime brand and network across the region."
The Premier League was also pleased with the new operator. "We are very pleased to have awarded the broadcast rights to Showtime Arabia as they have the perfect platform on which to further raise the profile of our league in a region which has shown a great appetite for the game," said Richard Scudamore, Chief Executive of the Premier League.
"We look forward to working with them to bring all of the very best of the Premier League action to homes across the region."
Showtime presently has only two dedicated sports channels - Sportsnet World and Sportsnet America. On the other hand, ART presently has eight channels showing at least nine live matches each weekend.