BeoutQ To Illegally Deliver BeIN Sports Content During World Cup
One month before the start of the World Cup, the world’s most-watched sporting event and beIN Sports' signature property, beoutQ, a bootlegging operation "seemingly based in Saudi Arabia and whose roots lie in the bitter political dispute between Qatar and a coalition of countries," is "positioned to illicitly deliver the tournament’s 64 games to much of the Middle East," according to Tariq Panja of the N.Y. TIMES. Qatar, despite abundant resources, has been "powerless to stop it." Decoder boxes embossed with the beoutQ logo have for months been available across Saudi Arabia and are "now for sale in other Arab-speaking countries." As the Champions League semifinal unfolded last week, beIN Middle East Managing Dir Tom Keaveny, who has worked in TV for three decades, gathered with a half-dozen beIN engineers in a small room known as “the lab” with a mandate: Disrupt beoutQ. Keaveny said that beoutQ's operation "takes industrial scale knowledge and ability and multimillion dollar funding." He said, "This isn't someone in their bedroom." BeoutQ’s website claims its backers are a Colombian and Cuban consortium. Officials at beIN said that they spent more than $200,000 investigating the bootlegging and "traced the beoutQ signal to the Riyadh-based satellite provider Arabsat." Saudi Arabia is the company’s largest investor. BeIN has committed "several billion dollars" to secure exclusive rights to the biggest sports events. BeIN Media Group Exec Dir of Commercial Affairs Mohammad Al-Subaie said, "The name beoutQ is totally designed to intimidate. Being a Qatari, I really feel angry about it." BeoutQ launched in October with 10 HD channels. Its owners geo-locked it so "only internet users in Saudi Arabia had access." The website featured all major beIN content, including football from around the world, NBA games and marquee tennis tournaments. BeoutQ’s backers, "emboldened by their ability to steal content at will," have started to add content owned by other broadcasters beyond beIN, including fights from UFC (N.Y. TIMES, 5/9).