Premier League backs beIN Sport for another 3 years of TV rights, leaving Saudis in the cold

By Paul Nicholson

August 10 – Qatar-owned sports broadcaster beIN SPORTS has renewed its exclusive Premier League broadcast rights deal for a further three years starting from the 2019/20 season. beIN’s rights will cover the Middle East and North Africa.

The announcement is significant as the deal covers Saudi Arabia where beIN and various rightsholders including UEFA and FIFA, are locked in battle with pirate broadcaster beoutQ that has been stealing broadcast signals and rebroadcasting via the Riyadh-based Arabsat satellite to setop boxes in the country.

beoutQ pirated every match of the World Cup, rights that had been bought and paid for by beIN SPORT.

beIN will broadcast all 380 matches each season as well magazine programming, including pre- and post-match shows, daily highlights and weekly wrap-up programmes.  Via its OTT service, beIN CONNECT, subscribers will be able to watch Premier League content across web, tablet and mobile devices.

Nasser Al-Khelaifi, chairman and CEO of beIN MEDIA GROUP, said “We are honoured that the Premier League has trusted beIN MEDIA GROUP and beIN SPORTS again to be the official and exclusive broadcaster, champion and custodian of its product in the Middle East and North Africa.  Nothing brings people together and excites passions and emotions like sport; particularly football.”

How far it will bring Saudi Arabian football fans into the mix remains to be seem as the country refuses to grant beIN a broadcast license, though it aggressively denies it is supporting the copyright theft of beoutQ, tacitly or otherwise. A protestation that convinces few in the broadcast business.

That the Premier League has chosen to stay with beIN and not switch rights to a Saudi broadcaster is a reinforcement of where the battle lines lie as well as an acknowledgment of the contribution and importance beIN SPORT has within the sports rights eco-system .

For the Saudi’s, who have in the past even played their King’s Cup final in England, and are increasingly becoming the pariahs of the sports rights broadcast market, the decision is a big snub and they can expect fierce resistance to any piracy within their country.

Richard Scudamore, executive chairman of the Premier League, said: “We know there are many passionate fans of Premier League clubs right across the Middle East and North Africa, and that beIN SPORTS does an excellent job making the competition available to them.  beIN is a long-term partner of the League and its first-rate coverage has helped to grow interest in our clubs across many countries.  We look forward to continuing to work with them to make the best Premier League action available to fans in the region for the next four seasons.”

beIN’s roster of European football league content now includes rights to LaLiga, the Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and Serie A as well as the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Europa League, all major CAF, AFC and CONCACAF competitions, together with the FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championships.

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