Following Etisalat by e&’s announcement to discontinue beIN channels on the elife platform, one wonders if the contract between du and beIN, which is due for renewal later this month, will conclude in a similar fashion.
Etisalat by e& announced that it will not be carrying the beIN channels on its platform as of June 1, 2023. Back in June 2018, we ran into a similar situation when beIN suddenly went off-air on the du platform in the UAE.
There were rumours back then that negotiations regarding pricing had fallen through and the UAE telecoms operator du would not be able to carry the beIN channels anymore. Fortunately, it was reinstated after further talks. I guess we are in a similar situation now, where the two parties have hit a financial roadblock. A couple of weeks ago, Foxtel in Australia had announced that it was dropping beIN from its bouquet.
No doubt, BeIN holds the rights to a lot of premium sports content and clearly has paid a fortune for them, but any carrier negotiations have to be commercially viable for all parties. What is beIN’s best bet in the UAE if carriers refuse to pay the asking price?
Is beIN hedging that people will go to its streaming service TOD? Can it really see its revenues go up if it goes direct to consumer (D2C) and will it be able to secure the volumes that its UAE telco partners already have?
In the meantime, operators and platforms in the UAE have started to get creative and collaborate on sports rights. Elife and StarzPlay, for instance, have been strategically snapping up the rights to important games and its recent acquisition of the IPL cricket rights was a massive coup, not to mention Series A. MBC has secured the F1 rights. Rumour has it that beIN has been hiking its prices each year and UAE entities are reluctant to invest in deals that do not make commercial sense.
It will be interesting to see how things pan out, especially since the beIN-du contract is up for renewal at the end of this month!