Some folks were confused, or even annoyed, when it was announced Tuesday that Conference USA has reached a deal with beIN SPORTS to broadcast some of the league's football and basketball games for the 2016-17 season.
Most of the consternation was over the fact that beIN SPORTS was created by the same people who founded the Qatar-based cable news network Al Jazeera, which is partly funded by the House of Thani, the ruling family of Qatar.
“Al Jazeera Sport” was the original name of beIN SPORTS, which has always featured soccer-heavy programming.
The partnership between beIN SPORTS and C-USA is totally out of the blue and worthy of a laugh. I pointed out the absurdity of the situation in the headline of my blog post earlier this week, “It was only a matter of time before C-USA and Al Jazeera joined forces.”
This fall will mark the first time that beIN has ever broadcast American football.
The C-USA/beIN partnership is an odd one, but it's born out of necessity for both parties. C-USA is looking for every national outlet it can get as part of its new TV contract and beIN saw the league as an opportunity to make inroads with the American audience.
The fact is that beIN SPORTS is a good production and you wouldn't know it was an offshoot of the Al Jazeera Media Network unless you did a little research. The network is popular among soccer fans for its coverage of Spain's La Liga and Serie A in Italy.
The North American Soccer League, which is one level below MLS, has recently been added to beIN's broadcast schedule as it increases its presence in the U.S.
Al Jazeera has dealt with an image problem ever since it tried to create programming for the American audience. Al Jazeera America, a news network created to compete with stations like CNN and MSNBC, folded recently after three years in existence.
If you had tuned in to watch Al Jazeera America, you would have noticed that the network was not that different from the BBC or Sky News, a pair of British productions.
ESPN, CBS Sports Network and the American Sports Network are also reportedly set to broadcast C-USA games this season.
It's a fair bet that the beIN broadcasts of C-USA games will likely be of better quality than games carried by ASN and CBSSN.
So there's no need to be uptight about the addition of beIN to C-USA's slate of networks. The league needs all the help it can get and beIN can provide a boost to nation-wide coverage.
Here's a list of providers that carry beIN SPORTS: DirecTV, Dish Network, Cablevision, Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-Verse. It is also available through beIN CONNECT, Sling TV and Play Station Vue.