beIN Sports subscribers face Premier League lock out
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beIN Sports, the Qatar-owned global sports network, may cut the number of live English Premier League (EPL) games it shows this season as it struggles to battle piracy issues.
beIN, formerly Al Jazeera Sports, owns the television rights for the EPL for 23 countries from Iran to Morocco, which started on Saturday. The sports network advertises that it shows all games live and exclusive, however, on Saturday it issued a notice on its website streaming service advising that a number of games, including Arsenal vs Crystal Palace, would not be shown.
“Due to rights restrictions, this match cannot be viewed over the Internet. We apologise for the inconvenience and we hope to revert to full schedule soon,” the notice said.
Al Jazeera acquired media rights for the EPL in the Middle East and North Africa last year for three seasons for an undisclosed sum from TV sports rights firm MP & Silva. Last year, MP & Silva said it bought the rights, which were ultimately sold on to Al Jazeera, for close to $300 million (Dh1.1 billion), Reuters reported
The Premier League is one of the wealthiest leagues in the world with an estimated Â£5.5 billion (Dh33.7 billion) in revenue brought in from domestic and global TV rights for the three seasons ending 2015/2016.
Last November, the Doha-based channel started restricting the number of lives games shown on a Saturday in a bid to curb illegal streaming of its games in the United Kingdom.
A call centre employee for the sports network told Gulf News on Sunday they did not know why the games were not shown but warned that beIN Sports may continue to restrict the number of live games throughout the season. beIN Sports shows games on its subscription website and on pay television in the UAE through Etisalat and Du.
Digital subscribers are spending close to Dh500 for the sports package, which also includes the Formula 1 and other sporting events.
A request for comment to BeIN Sports went unanswered on Sunday; however, the call centre employee said they had “no idea” why the games were restricted and that they had received “little information” from their managers.
beIN Sports anchor Richard Keys tweeted on Wednesday that “not all games” over the past weekend would be shown due to a test period to satisfy the EPL.
But he also added that, “To the best of my knowledge guys we are now âsecure’.”
Some customers would have paid close to Dh800 for an online sports package this year that included live EPL and Fifa World Cup games. The World Cup games were not restricted.
In March, beIN Sports launched a campaign to curb TV Piracy.
“beIN Sports is determined to protect the rights of its subscribers. Since last November, TV piracy has caused disruption to our broadcast of some English Premier League football matches, prompting us to take these proactive steps,” stated Roger Hall, Managing Director of beIN Sports Mena.
The sports network also declared a number of channels, including those that show EPL games, would be secure by the time the World Cup starts. The World Cup ended on July 13. In a beIN SPORTS press release in April, EPL Chief Executive Richard Scudamore praised the networks efforts to curb TV piracy in the Middle East.