BeIN Sports retains Premier League rights in MENA region
BeIN Sports, the international pay-television operator, has extended its contract to provide exclusive live coverage of English soccer’s Premier League in the Middle East and North Africa by three years until the end of the 2021-22 season.
The Qatar-based broadcasting group has been the regional home of the popular league since the start of the 2013-14 campaign, and today’s announcement ties up one of the most important international rights deals for the next three-year cycle.
Under the agreement, which was concluded with a signing ceremony in London yesterday, ahead of the start of the new Premier League season, BeIN Sports will continue to provide live coverage of all 380 games each year, complemented by pre- and post-match shows, daily highlights and weekly wrap-up programmes on its suite of TV channels in the 23 countries in the MENA region.
This content will also be available on the over-the-top service BeIN Connect accessible on web, tablet and mobile devices.
Richard Scudamore, the executive chairman of the Premier League (pictured, left), 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.”
Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the chairman and chief executive of BeIN Media Group (right), commented: “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. The Premier League is one of the most exhilarating of all leagues in world football, attracting the best talent on and off the pitch and providing the most captivating entertainment.”
The Premier League is one of the prize assets of the extensive BeIN Sports soccer offering that also includes Spain’s LaLiga, Germany’s Bundesliga, France’s Ligue 1, Italy’s Serie A, Europe’s Uefa Champions League and Europa League, the Fifa World Cup and Uefa European Championships and major competitions from the CAF, AFC and Concacaf regions.
The retention of the English league is seen as a significant development with interest in soccer in the Middle East expected to swell in the run-up to the first World Cup in the region, in Qatar in 2022.
However, BeIN Sports has recently faced a significant challenge from beoutQ, a pirate broadcast network active in MENA, which has been providing unauthorised coverage of events to which the Qatar-based broadcaster holds rights.
BeIN Sports has received backing from federation and league partners in its high-profile campaign for intervention over the piracy of its broadcast signal, with Fifa last month beginning legal action in Saudi Arabia after beoutQ showed matches from the World Cup that was taking place in Russia.
The Saudi Arabian government has denied accusations that the pirate network is operating out of the country.
The legal action is set against the backdrop of a bitter political and economic dispute between Qatar and other Middle East nations, with the small Gulf state having repeatedly and vehemently refuted allegations that it supports terrorism in the region.
The 2018-19 Premier League campaign gets under way this evening as Manchester United, last season's runners-up, host Leicester City.