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BeIN cites piracy as it opts against Bundesliga renewal in Mena

Pay-television broadcaster beIN Sports has said that its ongoing concerns over piracy have prompted it to decide against renewing its German Bundesliga rights in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Doha-based broadcaster held the Bundesliga rights across the Mena region as part of a five-year agreement that expired at the end of the 2019-20 season.

In a statement, beIN’s chief sports officer Richard Verow said: “Our business plan is clear. We will only bid for rights at levels that make economic sense and have a value proposition.

“Piracy has crippled the market so we have made the decision not to renew with Bundesliga there.”

Bundesliga International, the league’s commercial rights arm, and beIN were in talks over a new five-year agreement, according to Bloomberg.

Robert Klein, chief executive of Bundesliga International, told SportBusiness Media: “The Bundesliga has not reached commercial terms with beIN and therefore not renewed. The growth and popularity of the Bundesliga in the region means we are in active discussion with interested parties to bring our football to serve our millions of fans there.

“Our proposition is wide ranging and impactful, and with the next two big world footballing events being held in the region and then in Germany, the Bundesliga offering will act as a natural anchor, with the right partner(s) during this highly engaging time for sports and football fans.”

The 2020-21 Bundesliga season kicked off on Friday without a broadcaster in place in the Mena region.

Bundesliga rights deals with beIN are in place in France, Australia and New Zealand.

Verow said that the “Bundesliga is – and remains – a fantastic partner of ours”.

The broadcaster refused to show any Serie A matches in the Mena region on the restart of the Italian league in June amid tensions over the league’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, which beIN accuses of supporting pirate channel beoutQ. The World Trade Organization has also ruled that Saudi Arabia failed to protect intellectual property rights with regards beoutQ’s activities.

However, beIN later lifted its Italian Serie A blackout after reaching a financial compensation deal with the league and international rights distributor the IMG agency.

BeIN acquired the Serie A rights across a slew of territories, including France, Australia and the Middle East and North Africa in its initial deal running from 2018-19 to 2020-21, worth around $170m (€144.2m) per season.

BeIN chief executive Yousef Al-Obaidly has previously warned that, as a result of beoutQ’s activities, the company now considers all sporting media rights “non-exclusive”. The piracy issue also contributed to the the broadcaster declining to renew its deal for the Mena rights to Formula 1 racing.