Eleven begins US rights acquisitions spree with T20 deal
Eleven Sports Network, the international pay-television broadcaster, has today made its first notable live rights acquisition in USA by picking up coverage of an international Twenty20 cricket competition taking place in Dubai this week.
Under the deal with RDA TV, the UK-based sports rights agency, Eleven will show exclusively all the matches from the Emirates Airline Twenty20 Tournament on Thursday and Friday.
The competition at the Dubai Sports City ICC Academy will feature teams from England and Pakistan and is benefiting from live TV coverage for the first time in its seven-year history.
Eleven touched down in USA last week when it acquired the distribution assets of One World Sports, the troubled cable and satellite sports broadcaster.
It is available in 50 million households and has been showing a variety of sport, including cycling, mixed martial arts and Atlantic Coast Conference college sports documentaries, since it went live.
However, it has much wider ambitions, with sports on its radar including ice hockey, basketball, soccer, rugby union, lacrosse, drone racing, CrossFit and e-gaming.
Cricket is an attraction because of the large South Asian expatriate population in USA, which the likes of ESPN and Willow TV, the dedicated cricket channel, have already tapped into.
The Dubai event will involve the Lancashire Lightning, the Birmingham Bears and the Durham Jets from England’s T20 Blast, an MCC Emerging England XI and the Peshawar Zalmi and the Lahore Qalanders from the Pakistan Super League.
Danny Menken, the group managing director of Eleven Sports, said that it is the broadcaster's aim to “offer a new generation of fans live and exclusive access to emerging and exciting sports action that is not available through other networks.”
USA is the sixth country in which Eleven is now available, joining Poland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Taiwan and Singapore.
It has already secured carriage deals in USA with the likes of AT&T, DirecTV, Verizon, Charter and NCTC.
Last week, Marc Watson, the executive chairman of Eleven and its parent Aser Media, told Sportcal that the broadcaster was agreeing rights deals and would “have 400 live events and 1,000 hours of live programming this year.”
A digital over-the-top platform will be launched alongside the existing linear channel, while opportunities in Canada will be assessed.
Eleven will produce content locally from a new hub to be established in Orlando, Florida, which will become part of the wider Aser group. An office is likely to be opened in New York.