The Middle East broadcaster of German top-flight soccer walked away from contract renewal talks hours before the new season kicks off.
Qatar-based BeIN Sports told the Bundesliga Friday it was pulling out of the negotiations on a new five-year deal, blaming piracy as the primary factor.
“Our business plan is clear. We will only bid for rights at levels that make economic sense and have a value proposition,” Richard Verow, chief sports officer at BeIN, said in a statement. “Piracy has crippled the market so we have made the decision not to renew with Bundesliga there.”
The company had paid 200 million euros ($237 million) in the previous five-year deal and has been showing Bundesliga games live in 24 countries in the region. The new season begins on Friday evening with Bayern Munich’s match with Schalke.
A spokesman for the German league declined to comment.
BeIN has blamed Qatar’s regional rival Saudi Arabia, with whom it has a political and economic dispute, for supporting a rival broadcaster that it says took BeIN content illegally and sold it on to viewers who would otherwise be paying BeIN for the service. The Saudi government denies the allegation.
After lobbying governments and international sporting bodies to help it scuttle the rival operation, BeIN has turned to more direct action in recent months. It pulled a contract to show Formula One motor racing and briefly dropped coverage of Italian soccer after disputing the price of the broadcast rights.
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