In the midst of the current diplomatic issues with Qatar, access to the beIN Sports TV has been obstructed by local UAE providers. Fans expecting the start of the English Premier League season next month will need to find other ways to watch the matches, the kick-off announced for August 12.
BeIN holds the exclusive rights to air the live English Premier League football matches across the Middle East and North Africa region. With the crisis expected to roll on it means the blackout of the sports network will also continue without being resolved. If the situation persists into the second half of the season, however, the contract held by beIN with the Premier League may then be in jeopardy, experts in sports broadcasting rights said.
The company also holds the rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups although the Premier League is an important audience draw for BeIN, from which it secures its highest ratings. Terms for the current beIN deal with the English Premier League announced in November 2015 were not revealed but was believed to be sharply up on its previous three-year deal reportedly about US$315 million.
While the Premier League will get apprehensive about losing viewers in one of its most profitable viewing and sponsorship markets, it will think long before ending a contract with a long-term media partner which could reduce competition for future rights battles, said a UK-based sports legal expert who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.