POLITICS AND PIRATES: Sports Broadcasting in the Middle East

Craig L. Lamay*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is one of the fastest-growing sports markets in the world, mainly because of Qatar’s BeIN pay television network, which since 2013 has acquired regional rights for most of the world’s top leagues and competitions, including virtually all of European football. BeIN is currently the world’s largest sports broadcaster by contractual rights, if not by geographic reach. Beginning in 2017, however, Qatar found itself the object of a blockade by its Gulf neighbours. BeIN found itself the target of BeoutQ, a state-sponsored, industrial-scale piracy operation distributed on the Riyadh-based Arabsat satellite. BeoutQ later moved to Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) and distributed hundreds of pirated sports channels from Europe and the United States. The resulting chaos plunged the MENA sports rights market into turmoil. It threatened the business model of sports broadcasters who rely on rights exclusivity everywhere. In 2020, Qatar won its piracy case against Saudi Arabia at the World Trade Organization; though Saudi Arabia has consistently denied any responsibility for BeoutQ. The blockade ended in January 2021, but the future of sports broadcasting in the region will remain a political issue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Sport in the Middle East
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781000567922
ISBN (Print)9780367470227
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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