BeIN has previously faced broadcast restrictions in the UAE during their blockade on Qatar that began in 2017.
Qatar’s BeIN network has been taken off air by one of the United Arab Emirates biggest networks, according to Bloomberg.
The Qatari-owned media corporation, which holds exclusive streaming rights for some of the biggest sports events in the world, including the English Premier League football, will continue to air on the UAE’s Du only until the end of this month.
Etisalat, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, cited commercial reasons for the decision without going into specifics. The company announced that affected customers would be entitled to a refund of 184 dirhams ($50.10) per month.
In a statement to Doha News, a beIN Media Group spokesperson described the move as a “disappointment”.
“After lengthy discussions where beIN has tirelessly sought to extend our decade-long partnership with Etisalat, we are disappointed not to be able to renew this relationship at this time.
“This means beIN’s amazing content will not be available on eLife TV. beIN will continue to provide the world’s very best premium sports and entertainment content – including the keynote sports events such as the UEFA Champions League Final and the FA Cup Final – to our valued and loyal subscribers in the UAE through the beIN Satellite Network,” the statement added.
However, this news comes as a blow to sports enthusiasts who have grown accustomed to accessing some of the world’s biggest sporting events via beIN’s channels on Etisalat’s network.
BeIN Media Group operates across five continents and has become a staple for sports broadcasting in the Middle East. Its influence reached a peak when it served as the primary Middle Eastern broadcaster for last year’s FIFA World Cup.
It is unclear if this is a temporary decision by the Emirati networks.
BeIN faced broadcast restrictions in the UAE at the height of the GCC crisis in 2017, during which Qatar faced an illegal air, land and sea blockade by a number of regional countries.
Similarly, Saudi Arabia, which also severed ties with Qatar during the blockade, only lifted its ban on beIN in 2021 after reconciling with Doha. Since then, there have been talks over potential collaboration between the two countries in the broadcasting realm.
The Saudi Public Investment Fund has informally expressed interest in partnering with Doha-based beIN, according to Bloomberg sources.
However, how these developments will shape the future of sports broadcasting in the Middle East remains a question for both the broadcasting corporations and sports fans.