August has been rough for beIN Sports. The networks were dropped by Verizon and Comcast systems earlier this month. Now they are gone from AT&T platforms as well. Both DirecTV and U-Verse have eliminated beIN from their offerings.
beIN was built on international soccer coverage. That content has become more valuable as OTT streaming services like ESPN+ and B/R Live look to fill programming holes. beIN has been unable to compete in bidding wars. It, most notably, recently lost US TV rights to Italy’s Serie A to ESPN+.
The network attempted to diversify its offerings in recent years. College football and basketball games from Conference USA were added to the lineup. A deal with SB Nation Radio to televise a simulcast of The Sean Salisbury show was reached in 2017. None of it made the intended impact with American audiences.
The combination of those factors means beIN has become expendable in the eyes of a number of TV providers. While the network has launched a public campaign asking its viewers to contact AT&T and demand beIN and beIN en Español return to DirecTV and U-Verse, it is a plea Awful Announcing’s Matt Yoder believes will fall on deaf ears.
This is going to be a very tough, uphill battle for beIN. They’re losing more rights than they are gaining at the moment and unless they are able to make a big play for a major rights package like the Premier League or Champions League (which aren’t going anywhere anytime soon) then their argument to get wide distribution is likely going to fall on deaf ears.
The fact that AT&T has already pulled the channel without the usual public back and forth that we typically see in these carriage disputes trying to force a deal is a discouraging sign. AT&T clearly feels like they have all the leverage here. And with beIN already removed from Comcast, it’s not like they’re on an island with this decision.
Spain’s top soccer league La Liga is still carried by beIN in the United States. While it considered one of the world’s top leagues, La Liga alone isn’t enough to convince TV providers to keep the network on its lineup. It also stands to reason that when the league’s US TV rights are up they will be the subject of a bidding war that history says beIN cannot win.