Not content with its purchase of Current TV earlier this year, Al Jazeera is reportedly looking at purchasing the Tennis Channel as it expands its presence in the U.S.
According to the New York Post, Al Jazeera owns BeIN Sport, which they describe as a global network of sports channels that could benefit from a U.S. outlet.
A source told the Post that “The Tennis Channel is in play and the Qataris are looking hard,” referring to the oil-rich owners of Al Jazeera.
The Post also noted that Qatari investors own French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain and had recently pursued a bid for conservative billionaire Philip Anschutz’s sports and entertainment company, AEG, with Colony Capital, before AEG took itself off the auction block.
BeIN Sport is carried by the two major satellite dish companies, Direct TV and the DISH network, as well as cable giant Comcast, and is currently owned by a group of private equity firms that are probably ready to sell the channel and book some profits.
The Tennis Channel grossed about $100 million last year, which isn’t large by cable sports channels standards, but they have locked up rights for certain sporting events, which increases its value in an era of skyrocketing rights fees. Within the past year, News Corporation paid $335 million for the half of ESPN Star Sports that it didn’t own, and is spending even more money to create a sports channel competitor to ESPN.
While Al Jazeera’s interest in the Tennis Channel may appear to be completely sports based, with the popularity of sports on the rise all over the world, it also provides another potential avenue to spread its propaganda to an unsuspecting audience.