If you live in the United States, get ready to watch FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and the rest of La Liga on a different channel.
Beginning in August, La Liga will have a new home in the U.S., with the launch of beIN Sport USA. beIN (“be in”) Sport USA is the new 24-hour soccer channel from Qatar-based Al Jazeera.
In March, Al Jazeera won the broadcast rights to La Liga in the U.S. Since 2004, La Liga has been broadcasted on GolTV.
beIN Sport USA Managing Director Youssef Mohammad al-Obaidly said via press release that the channels will be "a new way of watching sports, a better way.''
The network is in "the last stages of negotiation with different providers, having secured two major deals so far that will bring the channel to subscribers' homes on Aug. 1,'' al-Obaidly added.
I tried contacting DirecTV to see if they were going to carry beIN Sports, but they did not respond to my inquiries.
beIN Sport USA also produced this past weekend's pay-per-view broadcasts of the CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifiers in the United States.
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ESPN 2 and ESPN Deportes, to which GolTV sublicensed some Liga games, will no longer broadcast these games due to beIN Sport’s contract.
beIN Sport will come in pairs because Al Jazeera will bring two channels to the U.S.: beIN Sport 1 and beIN Sport 2.
Al Jazerra already has the beIN Sport franchise in France, as beIN Sport 1 and 2 debuted for French football fans on June 1.
beIN Sport will not just have La Liga; it will also be the new home of the Italian Serie A as well as France’s Ligue I.
Both leagues’ rights were previously held by Fox Sports.
Fox still has the Barclay’s Premier League and this fall will have the Europa League, to which they purchased the rights last year.
GolTV was the previous home the Europa League.
The 2015 Copa America from Chile will also be on beIN Sport.
beIN Sport will carry English- and Spanish-language options, a la GolTV.
Fox’s contract with the EPL expires at the end of the 2012-13 season and it’s expected that beIN Sport will look to purchase those rights, as well. The TV contract for the EPL’s 2013-16 seasons will be decided in November.
Don’t worry about the UEFA Champions League going anywhere, as Fox owns the rights to the European club championship through 2015.
It seems as though Al Jazeera and their beIN Sport want to buy up all the football/soccer TV rights in the U.S.
I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
So, who will be on beIN Sport?
So far, there have been no press releases or any other kind of information handed out to the media on who will be on the new channels.
While we may not know who will be all the new faces of the channel, we do know at least one familiar face that will be on beIN Sport: Phil Schoen.
Phil resigned from GolTV on May 12, announcing the move on his Twitter page:
Today, after nearly a decade of thrills, I have resigned from GolTV. So many memories, so many friends. What's next? Watch this space.
Phil will more than likely continue to cover La Liga, as he did for almost a decade at GolTV.
What will happen to Phil’s former colleague, the one and only Ray Hudson?
There has been no official news that Ray has left GolTV and is heading to beIN Sport. However, on May 12, Sports Illustrated senior writer Grant Wahl posted a tweet which indicated that he believes Ray Hudson has left GolTV:
Hearing Ray Hudson has left GolTV, been approached by Al Jazeera-owned Bein Sport, new US rights holder for leagues in Spain, Italy, France.
It sounds as though Ray has left GolTV and will reunite with Phil Schoen at beIN Sport.
Besides, Phil and Ray need each other.
As far as the Spanish broadcasters for beIN Sport, there has not been any official word on who will call games.
However, there were two tweets made by beIN Sports’ unofficial twitter account (@beINSportsUSA) a few days ago saying “Welcome” to Luis Omar Tapia and Eduardo Biscayart of Fox Sports Norte. Biscayart did Spanish commentary for Liga games on GolTV.
The two tweets were quickly deleted only a few days later.
Tapia responded to the “Welcome” tweet from @beINSportUSA in Spanish and English:
@beINSportsUSA Buen dia. Me parece que no son la cuanta oficial de este Nuevo Canal.. @DonBisca , creo que a ustedes les sobra una letra.
From these tweets, it looks as though Biscayart may be the person out of the two who may have gone to beIN Sport, as Tapia used "ustedes"—the plural form of "you"—when referring to Biscayart and the new channel.
One thing that can occur is that GolTV can be bought out by Al Jazeera. This would make it easier for Al Jazeera and beIN Sports to enter more homes, as GolTV already has deals with major cable and satellite companies.
You better believe Al Jazeera has the money to do it, too.
The biggest loser in all of these changes is obviously GolTV.
GolTV has lost its main commentators and the channel's biggest jewel—La Liga—to beIN Sport. Ratings for the channel will certainly fall, as they no longer have Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and other star players on their broadcasts.
The only major European league GolTV now has left is the German Bundesliga, with which they have a contract through 2015.
GolTV still has rights to the leagues in Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay, as well as exclusive rights to Boca Juniors and River Plate games.
La Liga is scheduled to start its 2012-13 season on August 19.
The Spanish Super Cup will air on ESPN as Copa Del Rey winner FC Barcelona will host Liga winner Real Madrid. The match is currently scheduled for August 23, with the second leg at the Santiago Bernabéu on August 29.
I will update you whenever I hear any news on beIN Sport here on Bleacher Report as well as on Twitter @XoelCardenas.
A lot of changes coming to the way we watch football/soccer in America.
I just hope they are changes for the best.
But more importantly, I just hope my satellite provider carries beIN Sport in August so I don't miss out on any Liga action. I'd hate to have to fork out money to switch providers or buy a more expensive channel package just for two new channels.
I'm sure many of you feel the same way.
UPDATE: beIN Sport USA will be exclusively on DirecTV as of August 15; channels 620 and 426. GolTV will move to channels 627 and 456. beIN is also available on Dish Network, channels 408 and 871.
Xoel, The Voice of FC Barcelona on Bleacher Report and Featured Columnist for Spain for Euro 2012.