BeIN strikes Serie A piracy compensation deal to lift blackout

Pay-television broadcaster beIN Sports lifted its Italian Serie A blackout after reaching a financial compensation deal with the league and international rights distributor the IMG agency for lost exclusivity due to the activities of pirate service beoutQ, SportBusiness understands.

Coverage restarted on Friday evening with the Juventus v Lecce match across all 35 territories the Qatar-headquartered broadcaster holds Serie A rights.

The broadcaster said: “The agreement reached regarding Serie A sets a major precedent, reinforcing what beIN and other international broadcasters have been saying for years: if rights-holders don’t tackle piracy, they’ll only receive non-exclusive fees.”

BeIN holds Serie A rights across a slew of territories, including France, Australia and the Middle East and North Africa in a deal running from 2018-19 to 2020-21, worth around $170m (€151.5m) per season.

The broadcaster refused to show any Serie A matches on the season’s restart just over a week ago, amid tensions over the league’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, which beIN accuses of supporting pirate channel beoutQ.

It has taken a consistently firm line where it feels rights-holders do not stand up to piracy. The broadcaster has been badly affected by the activities of beoutQ, which the World Trade Organisation ruled earlier this month has been actively promoted by Saudi Arabia.

BeIN chief executive Yousef Al-Obaidly has said that, as a result of beoutQ’s activities, the company now considers all sporting media rights “non-exclusive”.

The broadcaster’s relationship with Lega Serie A, in particular, had been strained in recent years as the Italian league’s ties to Saudi Arabia grew.

BeIN announced last year that it was “considering its entire commercial relationship” with Serie A ahead of last year’s Italian Super Cup which was played in Saudi Arabia.

Ahead of the 2019 Super Cup between Juventus and Lazio in Riyadh, the broadcaster said that it was “astonishing that the league has decided to press ahead despite all the evidence of the damage that has been done to the league’s business by beoutQ, Saudi’s pirate operation”.

The Lega Serie A assembly is due to discuss the beIN situation in the Middle East and North Africa at a meeting tomorrow (Tuesday).

IMG and recently reached an agreement with the league over its remaining payments for international rights to Italian football’s top flight.

IMG’s contract is worth just over €380m ($428.1m) per season from 2018-19 to 2020-21 for international broadcast rights, club archive rights, betting rights, a marketing spend and fee for access to the broadcast signal.