By Paul Nicholson
June 14 – Egyptian and Saudi Arabian fans will be able to watch their teams play at the World Cup after a last minute announcement by broadcast rightsholder beIN Sport that 22 matches will be broadcast on their free-to-air channels. The dispute over beIN’s distribution in both countries has been bitter with the Qataris having distribution issues and the Saudis even pirating rights on newly launched broadcast-spoiler station BeoutQ.
The free-to-air broadcasts will include all group games involving Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the opening ceremony and match (which sees Russia play Saudi) as well as selected quarter and semi-final matches and the final itself.
The Qatari broadcaster which holds the exclusive TV rights to the World Cup, has been battling to distribute its broadcast signal in both Egypt and Saudi following the economic blockade of the country.
Subscribers to beIN SPORTS will have access to all 64 matches from Russia across four beIN channels. beIN’s free-to-air channels that will carry 22 of the matches are being made widely available across the region with an expanded distribution.
“The landmark deal represents a clear statement and gesture of goodwill by the global broadcaster to offer its content to the widest possible Arabic audiences,” said a beIN press release.
Nasser Al Khelaifi, chairman and CEO of beIN MEDIA GROUP said: “Our region has some of the most passionate, dedicated and knowledgeable football fans in the world, and we are delighted to be able to open up access to the tournament to the multitude of fans who will tune in across region over the coming weeks. This is the first time we have made our content so widely available as we realise how significant and unifying this tournament is for our region.”
beIN has also announced three additional local market sub-licensing deals in Morocco, Tunisia and Lebanon with local public broadcasters: Société Nationale de Radiodiffusion et de Télévision (SNRT) – Morocco; Establissement de la Radiodiffusion-Television Tunisienne (ERTT) – Tunisia; and Télé Liban – Lebanon.
A spokesperson for SNRT said: “This is an absolutely fantastic deal for Moroccan football fans, and we’re grateful to beIN for making this possible. Everyone across Morocco is hugely anticipant of a great tournament for our country, and the fact that our fans can now watch our key national moments on terrestrial TV is hugely significant.”
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