English Premier League football fans still not able to view all matches live on beIN Sports

On Wednesday, Richard Keys, a presenter for the channel, confirmed that the situation would still be the same at the start of the new season, which kicks off on Saturday.
The Premier League decided last November to block some rights-holders from broadcasting many of the games, beIN Sports said. Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images
The Premier League decided last November to block some rights-holders from broadcasting many of the games, beIN Sports said. Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

ABU DHABI // Fans of English football will again miss out on seeing all matches live, despite an assurance on the website of the only regional network authorised to show them.

BeIN Sports states on its site that it shows all Barclays Premier League matches, which start on Saturday, “live and exclusive” in high definition.

But late last year, the Qatari broadcaster stopped showing most 6pm (UAE time) Saturday matches live, saying it was a move to battle piracy.

On Wednesday, beIN Sports presenter Richard Keys confirmed that the situation would be the same for the start of the season.

Keys posted on Twitter that “to the best of my knowledge”, the network was now secure from piracy.

He said beIN Sports would have a trial period to prove to the Premier League that it was secure, but all games would soon be available to subscribers.

The League decided last November to block some rights-holders from broadcasting many of the games, beIN Sports said.

In March, the network launched the first phase of a campaign to secure its 17 channels so that only viewers whose smartcards were registered to their set-top boxes could receive them.

BeIN Sports will on Saturday air the West Ham v Tottenham match live but not Stoke City v Aston Villa, Queens Park Rangers v Hull City, Arsenal v Crystal Palace, West Brom v Sunderland, or Leicester City v Everton.

“It’s quite frustrating because we are used to watching the Premier League games in the evenings,” said Ahmed Al Khoori, 22, a recent college graduate from Abu Dhabi.

“Last season, towards the end, they said the problem had been solved. I think it’s very bad for customers,” said Mr Al Khoori, an Arsenal supporter.

“First of all I had the Al Jazeera decoder, and then they said to buy the new beIN Sports one.

“So I had to pay for another decoder and then match the cards, and then, of course, pay Dh175 for a one-year subscription.”

Everton fan Paul Ellis, a digital-marketing manager in Dubai, said he felt the channel was being misleading in its advertising and “almost silent in informing subscribers” until he saw Keys’ message.

“As an Everton fan, I am made more frustrated because there will inevitably be a bias towards Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal,” said Mr Ellis, who has lived in Dubai for more than two years.

“Residents in the Middle East are accustomed to 100 per cent of live games being shown, so beIN Sports coming in and changing this makes it a whole lot worse.”

The main frustration for Andy Bird, 43, was less about the matches and more about the lack of clarity.

“They still charge us the same amount for half the service, and that’s the frustration,” said Mr Bird, a Briton who works for a pharmaceutical company and has lived in Dubai for five years.

Mr Bird, a Manchester City fan, said he has also lived in South Africa and that he did not experience issues like this there.

“In South Africa, they pick up the premiership as well on a Saturday, and they get all the games,” he said.

“That’s my frustration – it happens in other parts of the world. Why are we being penalised in the Middle East?”

Arabic-speaking fans tweeted their dissatisfaction on a hashtag reading “Respect the followers of the Premier League”.

BeIN Sports, formerly Al Jazeera Sport, broadcasts matches from the Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, France’s Ligue 1 and Italy’s Serie A, among others. It also broadcast this summer’s Fifa World Cup.

The network airs in the Middle East and North Africa, France, the US, Canada, Indonesia, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Repeated requests for comment from beIN Sports were refused.

lcarroll@thenational.ae

Published: August 14, 2014 04:00 AM

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