UAE media slams beIN Sports for failing online football fans

Subscribers to the Qatari network’s $135 a month online service frequently find that the UK’s Premier League matches are unavailable

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An article published Sunday in a UAE-based state-owned newspaper slammed Qatar-based sport broadcaster beIN Sports for failing football fans who wished to watch the matches online.

Subscribers to the channel’s $135-a-month beIN Connect service attempting to view a live stream of a UK Premier League football match on Saturday were angered by finding the service unavailable, the article in The National reported.

Instead, subscribers saw a message from the “bungling broadcaster” - which holds the rights to most high profile sports events - claiming that the match could not be viewed due to “rights restrictions,” the article said.

“At no point was I made aware that they are not allowed to stream games live due to rights restrictions,” Dan Perry, who runs the Dubai branch of the Birmingham City fan club was quoted by the article as saying.

Another subscriber, who contacted beIN’s customer service, ended up with a standard response saying some matches were unavailable.

Issues with the network are believed to come from the Premier League, which claims that beIN Sports broadcasts are being pirated and shown in other countries such as a the UK, despite beIN’s encryption.

“However, because beIN Sports routinely fails to respond to customer complaints or media inquiries, the network’s own explanation is not known,” the article said.

Multiple gripes

While late last year, the channel stopped showing many Saturday matches live, claiming it was in order to combat piracy, top beIN sports presenter Richard Keys claimed the network was now secure from the threat of piracy, according to a previous article in the newspaper.

Other complaints from subscribers include having to purchase new beIN decoders to replace their previous Al Jazeera ones.

And earlier this year, Keys himself said that BeIN Sports’ customer service was not good enough, after many viewers attempting to watch live Premier League matches had only blank screens to watch.

During the FIFA World Cup this summer, fans again faced the scourge of anti-piracy measures, finding their matches peppered with black rectangular bars containing a printed code obscuring parts of the screen.

Until the beginning of this year, beIN Sports was known as Al Jazeera Sports, which along with the rest of the Al Jazeera network, is owned by the Qatari government.

Al Jazeera is a competitor of Al Arabiya News Channel, which this website is the English platform of.

For full details, view The National’s story here.