Qatar’s beIN Sports renews deal to air Premier League in Middle East until 2025
Qatar-owned broadcaster beIN Sports has renewed the rights to exclusively show English Premier League (EPL) football matches across the Middle East and North Africa until 2025, the EPL announced on Thursday.
The new deal is an extension on the channel's existing contract, and covers the 2022-2025 broadcasting rights cycles. It is reported to be worth $500m over the three years.
“We are pleased to agree a significant deal with beIN Sports, who are a longstanding and valued partner,” Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said.
“Our clubs have millions of passionate fans across the Middle East and North Africa and beIN has played an important part in promoting the Premier League and helping engage those fans with our clubs and players.”
beIN Sports has been the EPL’s broadcasting partner in the MENA region since 2013.
Newcastle votes against deal after failed Saudi takeover
Earlier this year, the Qatari broadcaster found itself at the heart of a failed attempt by a Saudi-led consortium to buy Newcastle United.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which is chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, launched a £300 takeover bid in April, which would have given it an 80 per cent stake in the northeastern club.
However, after months of waiting to pass the EPL’s owners and directors test, the consortium withdrew its bid in July.
The takeover was marred by a report from the World Trade Organisation which found that prominent Saudi nationals promoted beoutQ, a pirate network that illegally streamed content from beIN Sports.
The ruling made reference to several tweets promoting beoutQ, including from Saud al-Qahtani, who served as a close aide to bin Salman before being implicated in the murder of Middle East Eye and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Neighbours Saudi Arabia and Qatar are locked in a bitter dispute, with the former placing the rival gas-rich emirate under a blockade since 2017.
Shortly after withdrawing from the Newcastle buyout attempt in July, Riyadh announced that it had permanently banned beIN sports. Despite this, Saudi Arabia is included in the deal announced this week.
If Riyadh maintains its beIN Sports blackout, Saudis will have no legal way to watch EPL games until at least 2025.
"This deal demonstrates that rights-holders who do the most to protect their intellectual property also do the most to protect the value of their media rights,” Nasser al-Khelaifi, president of beIN Media Group said on Thursday, in apparent reference to the piracy scandal.
The extension was approved by 19 votes to one, with Newcastle United the only EPL club to vote against it.
That suggests Newcastle, which confirmed last month it was taking legal action against the Premier League over the failed takeover, may be aggrieved at the role beIN Sports piracy played in the saga.
It also means that Sheffield United, a club owned by Saudi prince Abdullah bin Musa'ad, the cousin of crown prince MBS, voted in favour of the rights extension.