BeIN Sports Mena has confirmed it will not renew its deal for Formula One rights in the region, and made it clear that it will henceforth only partner with rights-holders that take a hard line against beoutQ, the Saudi-based channel pirating beIN content.
Tom Keaveny, managing director of beIN 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 combating 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.”
The broadcaster has consistently called for support from rights-holders since the beOutQ operation began and most recently took the step of creating the ‘https://beoutq.tv/’ website, documenting the timeline of the illegal streaming service.
Last year SportBusiness Media spoke with Dan Markham and Cameron Andrews, respectively executive director of sports content and anti-piracy counsel for beIN Media Group, about the ongoing piracy of beIN by the beoutQ service.
At the time, Markham said: “This could change the industry. If we’re basically saying that we no longer as broadcasters, as sports rights-holders, as industry bodies, have the ability to tackle piracy on this scale then it challenges the very fundamentals of what the industry is built on.”
The move could lead to rights-holders taking a stronger stance against beoutQ. The Asian Football Confederation and the English Premier League are two rights-holders that have gone further than “lip service” against the pirate channel, having both appointed legal counsel in Saudi Arabia to begin the process of bringing action against the parties involved.
It is thought beIN is unlikely to commit to a new deal with the AFC for its rights until the problem is resolved.