Qatari network Al Jazeera Sport has rebranded its package of channels across the Middle East and North Africa as beIN Sport, bringing them in line with the broadcaster’s assets elsewhere in the world.
The Gulf broadcaster, which last year paid upwards of $300m to secure the live TV rights to England’s Premier League for the region, made the switch on Wednesday with little in the way of a pre-announcement.
The pay-per-view network under its new guise will operate 19 high-definition channels, with presenters Andy Gray and Richard Keys remaining in place.
The brand beIN Sport was initially unveiled by Qatari Sports Investment, the parent company of Al Jazeera Sport, in 2012 following the acquisition of live broadcasting rights to France’s Ligue 1 football league. The network currently operates in markets including France, the US and Indonesia, with online streaming services in Canada. It also holds the rights to broadcast live sports including rugby league and the Superbike World Championship.
In November last year Al Jazeera temporarily saw its live coverage of England’s Premier League in the region limited as a result of illicit access to its satellite feeds from the UK.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the organising body for the top tier of English football requested that Al Jazeera reduce its coverage on Saturdays to just one 15:00 match, rather than the full roster. The decision means that subscribers, who pay around AED60 ($16) per month for Premier League coverage, will only be able to watch about half of the season’s remaining fixtures.
A source told the WSJ that the measure had been put in place as Al Jazeera subscription cards were being sold and shipped to the UK, where owners of bars and pubs were using them with generic set-top boxes to receive Al Jazeera’s live feed.For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.