Belgium’s Pro League has decided to allocate rights to the country’s top tier of football – the Jupiler Pro League – on a non-exclusive basis, ending a situation that saw the rights move between the two leading distributors Belgacom and Telenet.
All matches from the league for the 2014-17 seasons will now be available on Belgacom, Telenet and French-speaking region cable operator Voo, via their respective channels Belgacom 11, Sporting Telenet and VOOFoot.
Pro League president Michel Dupont said the decision would draw more fans to the league. He said that other operators could also still contact the league to carry the matches.
“The fact that we have allocated the live rights to the Jupiler Pro League on a non-exclusive basis means that other operators can still be candidates for the distribution of live matches,” he said.
Belgacom said it was in favour of a non-exclusive model that enabled viewers to watch Division 1 matches regardless of which operator they used, under conditions where the matches were accessible to all.
The telco said it is expanding its football offering by broadcasting all Division 1 matches, including the top matches and all games played by clubs RSC Aderlecht, Standard and Club Bruges.
Belgacom already holds the rights to matches from Belgium’s Division 2 as well as UEFA Champions League matches, Spanish and Portuguese first division matches, the English League Cup and the Spanish Cup.
“I’m very happy with the Jupiler Pro League live rights being allocated to several operators, as it enables Belgacom to fulfill her football for everyone ambition and offer its subscribers access to all the matches of Division 1 for the next three seasons,” said Belgacom CEO Dominique Leroy.
Telenet said it would make all Jupiler Pro League football matches available on its Sporting Telenet channel for the next three seasons.
The company said it had sought a non-exclusive deal for the division of the games since January, meaning that customers would no longer have to change their service provider each time rights change hands.
Telenet said it was “happy” with the Pro League’s decision and said that all Sporting Telenet customers would be able to follow all matches in the competition live on the channel until the 2016-17 seasons.
Telenet’s offering will retain the same prices and conditions for the time being.
“We are glad that the outcome of this dossier is positive for all football fans. Because the rights were granted on a non-exclusive basis, everyone, regardless of his/her operator, is able to enjoy Belgian top flight football,” said Inge Smidts, senior vice-president, residential marketing at Telenet.
“Football will receive more resources over the coming seasons and be watched by more supporters: this is excellent news for the sport and fans alike. But above all, we are very happy to confirm to our Sporting Telenet customers that they will also be able to enjoy all Belgian top flight matches for the next seasons.”
French-region broadcaster RTBF won additional rights for match highlights, a Saturday magazine programme and the Supercup. No offer has been made for these rights in Flanders.