Pay-television broadcaster BeIN Sports has laid off almost 300 employees in Qatar, or about 18 per cent of its local staff. Bloomberg reported that BeIN said the decision was required to “right-size their business”, due to the impact of the beoutQ pirate broadcast that is making its content freely available across the Middle East.
BeoutQ began broadcasting from Saudi Arabia in 2017, after the kingdom severed all diplomatic and commercial relations with Qatar as part of a wider political dispute between the two countries. Shortly afterwards, BeIN Sports, a Qatari company and the Middle East’s biggest sports pay-television broadcaster, ceased operations in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government denies any links to BeoutQ.
BeIN has exclusive media rights in the Middle East and North Africa for properties including the Fifa World Cup, Uefa Champions League and English Premier League.
Last week, a French court ruled that Saudi-headquartered satellite provider Arabsat is a signal-carrier for beoutQ, but also that BeIN Media Group had failed to show evidence of “clear and illegal disruption” as a result of that activity. BeIN told SportBusiness Media on Tuesday that the main goal of the litigation was to establish legally that Arabsat carries beoutQ’s signals, following the satellite provider’s previous denials.
In a separate, recent statement, BeIN said: “We will not stop our fight against BeoutQ until it is ended…These (layoff) decisions will secure our business for the future – we are not going anywhere.”
The layoffs announced yesterday are understood to affect BeIN’s Middle East operations only. The company also broadcasts in France, North America and in the Asia-Pacific region.
BeIN Sports Asia Pacific told SportBusiness this morning that there were no plans for layoffs in the region and, further, that the division was in the process of hiring new staff.