England’s Premier League (EPL) soccer administrators are not yet ready to award the TV rights for the important Middle East and North Africa market.
A decision was originally expected last September.
The new rights cover the 2013 – 2016 seasons.
The rights are currently held by Abu Dhabi Media and used on its Abu Dhabi TV Network (AD-TV). AD-TV also holds the rights to Formula 1 races and Wimbledon tennis. Locally, the consensus is that AD-TV paid around $100 million annually for the EPL rights, and few doubt that the next three years will cost more.
An EPL spokesman said there was no rush to conclude a deal, although the Tender document has been issued to all likely bidders. The EPL said there would be no decision this side of the holiday season.
Other bidders are likely to ensure the EPL rights represent a maximum income for the England Football Association, with Al Jazeera Sports a likely bidder. Some local observers suggest that Abu Dhabi and Al Jazeera might be considering a joint bid for the rights. Other contenders could include a revitalised Orbit Showtime Network (OSN), while there are any number of vanity players who could enter the market.