Fans cry foul as cost of watching Fifa World Cup on television leaps

Du is charging its customers Dh440 and Etisalat Dh450 for the football fiesta, on top of their existing packages.
A tourist takes pictures in front of the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, decorated for the upcoming Fifa World Cup. Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP
A tourist takes pictures in front of the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, decorated for the upcoming Fifa World Cup. Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP

Football fans will have to dig deeper to watch the Fifa World Cup on TV next month with the cheapest package costing Dh440 – nearly 50 per cent more than four years ago.

The World Cup kicks off on June 12 with Brazil vs Croatia. A total of 64 matches will be played over a month.

Du is charging its customers Dh440 and Etisalat Dh450 on top of their existing packages for the football fiesta. The South Africa World Cup in 2010 cost an extra Dh300.

“The Fifa World Cup is a much-awaited event that occurs every four years and sometimes every event has a different broadcaster,” said a du spokesman. “BeIN Sports is the current broadcaster of the World Cup and hence the channels and the prices have been predetermined. With every such event we aim to deliver the programming to our viewers but prices and packages are sold differently as these events are not regular.”

Al Jazeera Sports, the parent of beIN Sports, in 2009 paid a reported US$1 billion for the rights for the sports content broadcast by Arab Radio and Television, which included the World Cup in 2010 and the 2014 tournament.

The agreement with the Qatar-based TV channel covers cable, satellite, terrestrial, mobile and broadband internet transmission across 23 territories and countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Fifa has confirmed the extension of its broadcast rights agreement with Al Jazeera Sport for the 2018 and 2022 editions in Russia and Qatar respectively.

BeIN SPORTS did not comment on the fee hike.

However, some UAE-based football fans said they felt the packages were overpriced.

“It was always going to cost more, I just didn’t realise how much more,” said Nadeem Adam, a South African. “This is a huge jump since last time, over 50 per cent. South Africa did not qualify for Brazil so I don’t mind losing the quality and streaming it on my laptop, there are lots of sites that show it for free.”

The escalation in the costs of broadcasting rights inevitably means the customer will pay more.

That is encouraging some fans to look for cheaper or free alternatives on the web. The downside is that the quality may be poor and is most likely to blocked by the telecoms providers.

“I may stream the games on my laptop, but only because the games are on in the middle of the night, the earliest game kicks off at 11pm UAE time,” said Jorn Madslien, a Norwegian. “I am supporting England, so I may not be watching for long. I will buy the package because I want to watch the World Cup and experience the tournament the way you are supposed to. It is sad when everybody cannot afford it and people miss out.”

ascott@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter @Ind_Insights

Published: May 29, 2014 04:00 AM

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