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BeIN Sports restricts EPL coverage amid piracy concerns

Pay-television broadcaster beIN Sports opened its coverage of football’s English Premier League with a restricted service in the United Arab Emirates at the weekend as it continues to battle against piracy issues.

BeIN Sports holds exclusive rights in the Middle East and North Africa for all Premier League games in a three-year deal, from 2013-14 to 2015-16.

The broadcaster advertises its Premier League coverage as showing all games live and exclusive but on Saturday placed a notice on its live streaming service advising that a number of games, including Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace, would not be shown.

The notice said the restricted service was due to “rights restrictions” adding that beIN Sports hoped to revert to a full schedule soon.

A call centre employee for beIN Sports told the Gulf News newspaper the broadcaster may continue to restrict the number of live games throughout the season. BeIN Sports shows games on its subscription website and on pay-television in the UAE through the Etisalat and Du telecommunications companies.

The Gulf News said some customers would have paid close to Dh800 (€163/$218) for an online sports package this year that included live Premier League and Fifa World Cup games. The World Cup games were not restricted, while beIN Sports said in March that a number of channels, including those that show Premier League games, would be secure by the time the World Cup commenced on June 12.

BeIN Sports in December said it would introduce a new set-top box to tackle concerns over piracy of its coverage of the Premier League. The broadcaster said that the “secure” system would lead to a “piracy-free situation as soon as possible.” The Premier League in November requested that a number of its overseas media-rights partners limit the number of games they show at 3pm UK time on Saturdays, when the majority of games take place.