By Paul Kennedy
Middle East network Al Jazeera is buying up whatever international soccer television rights it can get its hands on -- and that includes U.S. rights to some of Europe's biggest leagues.
be IN Sports will be the name of the new network, and Multichannel News reported that it will launch with English- and Spanish-language versions on Aug. 1 to cover Spain's La Liga, Italy's Serie A and France's Ligue 1 (English only).
It will also provide coverage of important South American matches, acquiring rights to World Cup 2014 qualifiers and Copa America 2015.
Al Jazeera, owned by the Qatar Media Corporation, will partner with Miami-based production company Imagina US to provide production and distribution support.
be IN Sports' first big signing is veteran play-by-play man Phil Schoen, who announced Monday that he was leaving GolTV.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE RATINGS. The UEFA Champions League final between Chelsea and Bayern Munich drew a 1.3 overnight rating, down from the 1.8 for last year's Barcelona-Manchester United final. For comparison, some other weekend sports ratings: 5.9 for ABC's Miami-Indiana NBA playoff game, 5.5 for NBC’s Preakness horse race and 2.4 for Fox's Phillies-Red Sox in prime time.
SUPERCLASICO ... NOT. The rating for Saturday's Chivas USA-Los Angeles SuperClasico could not have been any lower. The MLS game on ESPN2 drew a 0.1 rating.
MAN UNITED'S COSTLY EXIT. How costly is an early exist from the UEFA Champions League? Following Manchester United's elimination from the 2011-12 Champions League in the group stage, its earnings dropped almost 10 percent year-to-year to $32 million and its revenues fell by six percent to $112 million. Meanwhile, its cash reserves were halved in the first three months of the year from $80 million to $41 million.
HUDSON ON SIRIUS. Ray Hudson fans can catch the colorful Englishman on Sirius XM Radio. He will will host "The Football Show" alongside Charlie Stillitano, Neil Barnett and John Harkes weekdays (7:00-9:00 am ET) on Sirius channel 92, XM channel 207 and on the SiriusXM Internet Radio App for smartphones and mobile devices.
SPONSORSHIP FRONT. MLS's Los Angeles Galaxy has signed up soft drink company Shasta to sponsor the Galaxy Futboleros, the Galaxy’s soccer tricks team. The Futboleros, "Flavored by Shasta," will be outfitted in uniforms that correspond to Shasta flavors and take part in a series of in-game and halftime promotions. A Facebook application will allow fans to upload videos of themselves performing their favorite FlavorStyle soccer tricks and win prizes.
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