BeIN Sports opts not to renew with F1 in MENA, citing piracy as the main reason

The latest in the wrangle over rights and piracy in the Middle East has taken in Formula One, as BeIN Sports says it is being careful over which rights it buys from here on in.

Qatari broadcaster BeIN Sports has decided not to renew its five-year contract – worth a reported $30-40m per year – with F1, who are now searching for a new broadcaster in the MENA.

According to the broadcaster, the reason for doing so centres on the battle it has been waging against BeoutQ – a company serving pirated content from BeIN in Saudi Arabia. The Qatari broadcaster now appears to be unwilling to pay large sums for rights to live sports content to rights holders it does not feel are combating the problem robustly enough.

Tom Keveany, BeIN Sports’ MD in MENA said, “A rights holder’s stance on beoutQ’s piracy – in other words whether they’re taking legal action, making a public stand, and doing everything within their power to combat the industrial-scale theft of their rights – is a critical factor that we’re now considering when bidding.”

“We pay enormous amounts for media rights, but the natural consequence of Saudi Arabia’s piracy is that those rights cannot be protected so we will pay less for those rights in the future – in particular to the rights holders who pay only lip service to combatting BeoutQ.

“We have been warning of the very real commercial consequences of BeoutQ’s theft of world sport and entertainment for almost two years now – yet the piracy continues with impunity every day and represents an existential threat to the economic model of the sports and entertainment industry.

“The international community must take decisive action to bring this state-supported piracy to an immediate end.”

Formula One is reportedly in the final stages of talks with a new broadcaster in the region, but the issue of piracy remains a hot topic.

Closer to home, Eleven Sports recently announced that it was releasing its rights to Serie A in the UK at the end of February, citing piracy as one of the reasons why it has had to take such drastic action in the middle of the season.

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Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 775 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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