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Sunday, June 20, 2021

beIN Sports walks away from German football league broadcasting rights talks

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The Qatar-based broadcaster blames ongoing Saudi piracy for pulling out of Bundesliga rights negotiations. 

BeIN Sports has pulled out of broadcasting rights talks with German football league Bundesliga on Friday, stating piracy as the reason. 

In June this year, Saudi Arabia had approached the Bundesliga over acquiring the football league’s television rights in the Middle East with the current licencing deal set to expire at the end of this season. 

BeIN Sports had paid 200 million euros ($237 million) in the previous five-year deal and has been showing Bundesliga games live in 24 countries in the region.

“Our business plan is clear. We will only bid for rights at levels that make economic sense and have a value proposition,” Richard Verow, chief sports officer at BeIN, said in a statement. “Piracy has crippled the market so we have made the decision not to renew with Bundesliga there.”

BeIN Sports has blamed Saudi-based pirate broadcasting outfit, BeOutQ, that has been broadcasting stolen content from beIN Sports. While beIN continues to hold exclusive media rights in the Middle East for multiple sporting events, including the FIFA World Cup and Wimbledon Championship, the loss of income from the Saudi market has had a significant impact on the broadcaster.

“If people think there are no guarantees, that the rights they are buying are not enforceable, they are not going to buy them. The whole business model of sports would unravel very quickly,” said Mark Lichtenhein, Chairman of the Sports Rights Owners Coalition.

The channel has used various means to try and end the illegal broadcasting of their content including lobbying governments and international sporting bodies, among them the World Trade Organisation. It previously ruled that the Government of Saudi Arabia is indeed  behind the piracy operation that has been illegally stealing content from beIN Sports.

Read also: BeIn Sports piracy dispute: WTO rules Saudi Arabia breaches International Law.

Despite several international sporting bodies and governments condemning the outright theft of intellectual property, Saudi Arabia continues to deny it and has tried time and again to deliberately block any proceedings related to this case. 

BeIn has now decided to take a more direct approach to push for action against the piracy. This is not the first time beIN has pulled out of broadcasting rights. Previously, beIN sports dropped Formula 1 rights and briefly dropped coverage of Italian football after disputing the licencing price.

BeIN and the Bundesliga still have contracts with each other in France and the Asia-Pacific region.

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