Pirate channel threat to clubs’ TV deals
Bournemouth and Watford have been warned they face financial disaster if a Saudi Arabia-backed broadcaster continues to steal hundreds of millions of pounds in Premier League TV rights.
Yousef Al-obaidly, chief executive of bein Sports, outlined the risks for top-tier clubs with smaller stadiums if he has to renegotiate or even pull the plug on rights deals in the next three-year cycle.
Rogue broadcaster Beoutq, which can be picked up around the world, has been stealing and repackaging broadcasts from Qatari-based bein Sports for two years. Arabsat had denied the pirated broadcasts were being carried by its satellites, but bein Sports claims it has been left billions of pounds out of pocket by the operation.
Al-obaidly had previously told The Daily Telegraph that bein could be forced to walk away from its deal with the Premier League unless the situation is resolved. Up to £650million of rights packages for UK sports – the majority of which ends up in Premier League clubs’ pockets – could eventually be at “significant risk”, he said.
Yesterday, addressing delegates at the Leaders Week London 2019, he warned of the knock-on impacts of clubs heavily reliant on TV deals.
“A rights holder will tell you we want a lot of market correction in the inflation of these rights if this piracy continues,” he said. “And if you look at Premier League clubs, if you take Watford or Bournemouth, the revenue they get today mostly comes from broadcast revenues.”
Broadcast revenues “thanks to the deal with Sky in Europe” is up to 90 per cent of their total revenues, he said, “so if these rights are sold non-exclusively, broadcasters will not just find that amount of money for the same price”.
“If we don’t do anything about piracy, you will have quite a value of reduction in rights,” he said.
Last month the Premier League, Fifa and Uefa claimed to have new proof that the biggest piracy operation in sporting history is the work of beoutq, which is operating with signals transmitted by Saudi-based Arabsat, a satellite communications network. Arabsat has been contacted for comment.