Abu Dhabi Media (ADM) announced yesterday that it had ended negotiations to renew regional TV rights for top-tier English football because of "the commercial infeasibility of the deal".
Earlier this week, Qatar's Al Jazeera Sport said it had obtained the rights to broadcast all 380 Premier League matches per season for three years, across 23 countries from Iran to Morocco, including the UAE and Egypt.
"Out of its commitment to its viewers and to build on its previous investment in these rights, ADM participated in the Premier League's October 2012 invitation to tender with a financial offer that exceeded the actual market value of the product.
"However … ADM accordingly decided there was no commercial sense in investing in … such an unviable commercial deal that would hinder the natural development of the market and ultimately reflect negatively on consumers," ADM said in a statement.
The total expected windfall from global TV rights for the Premier League is more than £5 billion (Dh27.9bn) for the 2013 to 2016 period.
In February, the television sports rights agency MP & Silva said it had won the TV rights to English top flight football for the region and that it would explore its options including selling the rights on to a third party.
MP & Silva said the cost of their agreement with the Premier League was close to the US$300 million ADM had paid to acquire the rights in their previous three-year deal.
ADM held the rights for the region for three years from the start of the 2010-2011 season and had been expected to retain them, further cementing the emirate's close ties with the sport that includes Etihad Airways sponsoring Manchester City, also owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed.
ADM, which owns and publishes The National, has made a significant investment in broadcasting the game in the region, pioneering high-definition technology, creating original Arabic content and streaming matches and highlights via the internet for the first time.
ADM said it would instead focus on "other relevant, high-value sports and entertainment content" including the F1 motor racing, the local UAE football League, WWE wrestling and Grand Slam tennis.