beIN Sports launches free network on Roku Channel

beIN Sports Xtra will include select soccer matches from LaLiga. (LaLiga)(La Liga)

beIN Sports is launching a free, ad-supported network on the Roku Channel, where it will feature live sports, including soccer, along with original series.

The English-language 24/7 network, beIN Sports Xtra, will launch first on the Roku Channel with more platform and device compatibility coming soon.

“In response to the high demand for our world-class content, it’s an exciting day for beIN Sports as we launch beIN Sports Xtra, delivering access to some of our highest quality sports properties, free for all viewers and fans,” said Antonio Briceño, beIN Sports deputy managing director for the U.S. and Canada, in a statement. “In addition to select matches from our popular soccer leagues LaLiga, Ligue 1 and Süper Lig, we’ll also offer viewers access via major platforms and devices that emphasize the growing popularity of women’s sports, including Paris Saint-Germain home matches and the French Women National team.”

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The company said Xtra is designed to build off its existing English- and Spanish-language channels “in an effort to help drive awareness and tune in to content that would otherwise be crowded out of the live premiere window given the extensive rights offering in the U.S.” beIN Sports Xtra will feature shows like “Sports Burst” that were previously available on Facebook along with live soccer, combat sports, adventure sports and library content.

beIN Sports Xtra joins a growing list of free, ad-supported sports channels in the U.S. Most recently, fuboTV launched its own free sports channel, Fubo Sports Network, which offers a mix of event coverage, news, and exclusive programming for U.S. viewers. CBS last year also launched its own free, ad-supported streaming channel, CBS Sports HQ.

The ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) is increasingly becoming a more lucrative space for media companies and providers to play in. According to Digital TV Research, global AVOD revenues will more than double between 2018 and 2024 to reach $56 billion.

Both NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia are planning ad-supported streaming service launches in the near future. In 2020, NBCU will launch Peacock and by 2021, WarnerMedia said it will include an AVOD offering with HBO Max, its streaming service launching next year.