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Eleven Sports lands first distribution deal for Pro League channels

Anderlecht face SV Zulte Waregem in Jupiler Pro League match (Photo by LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

Eleven Sports, the international pay-television broadcaster, has signed its first distribution deal for the new subscription channels that will offer live coverage of Belgian football next season, striking a long-term agreement with the telco Orange.

The five-year deal allows Orange customers to subscribe to a premium bundle of the three new Eleven Sports channels that will showcase Belgium’s top-tier Pro League, along with other Belgian football competitions.

The agreement is non-exclusive and Eleven Sports remains in talks with other potential distributors.

Eleven Sports’ existing channels, which show other sports content such as international football leagues, will remain part of the basic-tier Orange package.

The news comes after Eleven Sports last week signed off on its five-year media-rights agreement with the Pro League.

In February, the Pro League voted in favour of a five-year contract with Eleven Sports, covering domestic and international rights to the top two Belgian divisions and worth €103m ($115.4m) per season between 2020-21 and 2024-25. Antwerp and Gent initially opposed the collective deal but subsequently signed up to support it.

The Orange agreement also follows hot on the heels of yesterday’s announcement that Eleven is to work with Mediapro, the broadcast production and rights agency, on a “series of strategic international projects”, beginning with the Pro League.

Eleven Sports is to work with Mediapro on its new channels and the production of matches.

Along with the top-tier First Division A and second-tier First Division B, the rights acquired by Eleven Sports also includes the Belgian Cup, the Belgian Super Cup, the women’s Super League and the E-Pro League.

The acquisition of rights by Eleven was a major boon to the Aser Ventures-owned broadcaster after it lost out on the rights during the last auction. It also represents the most high-profile domestic property secured by Eleven in any of the territories in which it operates.

Eleven Sports is now profitable in the lowland country. It is distributed by various operators in over 750,000 Belgian homes.

The broadcaster launched two channels in Belgium in August 2015 on telco Proximus’ platform and introduced its OTT service later that year. A third channel was added in 2017 as a result of the broadcaster’s increasing sports-rights portfolio.