Orange to close sports channels, strikes deal with Al Jazeera

Orange is to close down its Orange Sport channels at the end of June and will offer Al Jazeera’s Be In Sport 1 and 2 channels to its subscribers in their place after striking a deal with the Qatar-based broadcaster.

Orange said it had chosen Al Jazeera as its partner after holding discussions with the broadcaster and alternative providers Canal Plus and Media365. Orange will also distribute a news sports channel from Media365 and is in talks with Canal Plus to pass on some of the sports rights held by Orange. The telco said it had also held talks with Media365 and Canal Plus to secure employment for a number of those who worked for Orange Sport.
“By focusing its strategy on its core business, Orange intends to draw on the power of its networks to distribute rich and diversified content and thus to propose the best content on all Orange TV platforms, whether PC, mobile or tablet, in response to new digital uses,” the company said in a statement.

Orange Sport has about 400,000 subscribers, who will be offered the option to sign up to Be In Sport 1 and 2 from May 24. Be In Sport 1 is expected to launch at the beginning of June.

According to local press, Orange has signed up to distribute Al Jazeera’s channels for four years. Orange’s Orange Sport Info channel will continue to be broadcast until the middle of September, after which it will be replaced by Media365’s channel, which will be offered as part of the telco’s premium sports package alongside Be In Sport.