Dubai: BeIN Sports, the Qatari-owned broadcaster, reportedly went dark in the UAE overnight, with viewers discovering on Saturday morning that they were no longer able to access the channels via Du or Etisalat.
This is not the first time the network has been unavailable: Last summer, due to the Qatar crisis, BeIN Sports, which is owned by Al Jazeera Media Network, was blocked in multiple Gulf countries.
“We are temporarily unable to show beIN sports channels and packages due to a decision by the broadcaster beIN Sports,” said Du, which sells BeIN packages in the UAE, in a statement to its customers.
As a result, the company added that it had halted all new subscriptions of the package, and would not be charging subscribers for the period in which BeIN was off-air.
Users were quick to point out the potential implications for the fast-approaching Fifa World Cup tournament, set to begin in two weeks.
In July 2017, BeIN failed to show Wimbledon, the oldest tennis tournament in the world, to its customers in the UAE, because it was taken off-air following the breakdown in diplomatic relations between the UAE and Qatar.
“The way in which the rights to major sports tournaments are awarded is in a competitive bidding environment,” said Ed Hall, Managing Partner at Expert Media Partners, a London-based consultancy that has advised on the sale of sports broadcasting rights.
“Part of the obligation that the winning bidder enters into is about the amount of distribution the sport gets,” he told Gulf News by telephone at the time, adding: “On the face of it, you would imagine that in failing to distribute the sport, they’d be in breach of their contract.”