Cristiano Ronaldo
Nassr's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (R) celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the Saudi Pro League football match between Al Nassr and Al Raed Image Credit: AFP

Riyadh: The Saudi Pro Football League has secured a network of deals to broadcast games featuring superstars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema around the world.

The deals span more than 130 territories at rates as much as four times higher than last season’s total revenue from broadcast rights, according to a person familiar with the situation, who declined to be identified as the information isn’t public.

According to data from SportBusiness Media Rights Tracker, the league’s 28 international deals last season generated revenue of about $710,000. While revenue from this year’s agreements will be higher, it’s dwarfed by the kingdom’s spend on football in recent months - including over $200 million on Ronaldo alone. The Premier League in England likely generated over $4 billion of revenue from broadcast rights in the 2022/23 season, according to Deloitte.

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This season’s deals include an agreement with Fox Sports, which will broadcast games via its cable channels in the US, the person said. Distribution via mainstream television and streaming outlets have been important to the Saudi league, following LIV Golf’s struggles with broadcast distribution.

Additionally, the league has secured agreements with sports streamer DAZN to show games in multiple territories, worth about $500,000 a year, Bloomberg News has reported.

“These agreements come at a time of genuine growth for Saudi Arabian football, with growing interest in the Roshn Saudi league from football fans all around the world,” Saudi Pro League interim CEO Saad Allazeez said in a statement. A representative for the league declined to comment on how much revenue the latest deals will generate.

The kingdom’s wealth fund, which manages close to $800 billion of assets, has acquired majority stakes in four of the biggest clubs in the Pro League, while state oil company Saudi Aramco took over another club.