Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 20 September 2019

Now beIN fails UAE online football fans too

Many football fans were surprised to find that they could not stream Premier League matches on Saturday through the beIN Sports online viewing service.
beIN’s online service failed to deliver Saturday’s Premier League matches, including the Manchester United v Swansea City at Old Trafford. Peter Powell / EPA
beIN’s online service failed to deliver Saturday’s Premier League matches, including the Manchester United v Swansea City at Old Trafford. Peter Powell / EPA

DUBAI // Angry online football fans joined TV viewers on Sunday in condemnation of bungling broadcaster beIN Sports.

Subscribers who paid Dh500 for beIN Connect logged in at 6pm on Saturday to watch the promised live stream of football from the Premier League in England – and found it was unavailable.

“Due to rights restrictions, this match cannot be viewed over the internet. We apologise for the inconvenience and we hope to revert to the full schedule soon,” an online message read.

Dan Perry, who runs the Birmingham City fans’ club in Dubai, said: “Despite the fact that they now show only a fraction of the promised games, I decided to renew my subscription on August 4. At the time, they said this would be for live streaming.

“At no point was I made aware that they are not allowed to stream games live due to rights restrictions.”

He contacted the network’s customer service department and asked for a refund. They responded with the same “rights restrictions” message as the one on screen.

“I only bought the package for watching the Premier League, as almost anything else they show is of no interest to me,” said Mr Perry, who has lived in the UAE for 11 years.

Subscribers to beIN Sports’s TV package have had the same complaint for more than a year. Despite promises that every Premier League match would be broadcast live, matches that kick off in England at 3pm on Saturdays are not available.

The Qatari network’s problems are thought to stem from the Premier League itself, which is unhappy that beIN Sports broadcasts are widely pirated throughout the UK, despite the network’s efforts to improve its encryption.

However, because beIN Sports routinely fails to respond to customer complaints or media inquiries, the network’s own explanation is not known.

Shrinath Sharma, 20, an engineering student in Dubai, said he could stream the matches from sources online, but would rather watch them legally.

He wondered why he was still unable to view the matches after the broadcaster’s anti-piracy campaign this year.

“What really gets me angry is that beIN Sports had the summer to clear the problem, and now that the receivers and the smart cards are paired, the network is supposedly secure,” he said.

“So I don’t see any problem why they can’t stream all games.”

Another subscriber in Dubai, who was trying to watch the Manchester United–Swansea match, said beIN had advertised the online package saying all matches would be broadcast.

“I had no reason to suspect that the online package was essentially a waste of money,” he said.

He tried contacting customer service but got the standard response that said some matches were unavailable.

“There’s no option to call in the UAE, so I’ve exhausted my options,” he said.

“Again, this was factually incorrect as I in fact have no access at all.”

He was also surprised that the Premier League “has done nothing” to placate fans.

“They have at least an ethical obligation to explain what is happening and how the situation will be rectified,” he said.

The network, formerly known as Al Jazeera Sport, shows matches from the Premier League, La Liga in Spain, Ligue 1 in France and Serie A in Italy, among others.

It broadcasts in the Middle East and North Africa as well as France, Canada, the US, Indonesia, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

lcarroll@thenational.ae

Updated: August 17, 2014 04:00 AM

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