WHERE’S THE REMOTE?

Qatar 2020 | SPORTS & TOURISM | INTERVIEW

beIN Media Group has rapidly become one of the leading sports and entertainment groups in the world, while also being at the heart of the global fight against piracy.

Yousef Al-Obaidly
BIOGRAPHY

Yousef Al-Obaidly has been the CEO of beIN since 2018, which operates in 43 countries around the globe. As one of the most respected executives in global sport and entertainment, Al-Obaidly manages the single-largest portfolio of sports rights as the head of beIN MENA, beIN SPORTS France, Americas, and Asia Pacific, while also being the CEO of Digiturk, the leading pay TV operator in Turkey. Al-Obaidly has lived and breathed the sports and creative industries for the past two decades. As early as 2003, he played an integral role in the successful launch of Al Jazeera Sport. In addition, Al-Obaidly is a board member of Paris Saint-Germain Football Club, Paris Saint-Germain Handball, Qatar Tennis Federation, Qatar Sports Investments, and Qatar Satellite Company Es'hailSat.

What have been the main areas of focus of beIN MEDIA GROUP over the last few years, and what are some of your main milestones as a company?
Since launching our first beIN SPORTS channel in France in 2012, we have grown at an astonishing pace and across an incredibly diverse range of territories. It is amazing to look at our global footprint and influence—we now have major sports offerings in Europe, North America, Asia, Australasia, and MENA, our home. As a group, we hold the single-largest portfolio of sports rights out of any broadcaster in the world. In recent years, we have also focused on providing our subscribers with the best entertainment content as well—be that through the acquisition of MIRAMAX in 2016; signing partnerships with leading studios such as Warner Bros. or the BBC; or commissioning our own original content drama series in Turkey. Our overall focus is to offer subscribers the best viewing experience in sports and entertainment. We are also the first broadcaster in MENA to offer 4K and are constantly enhancing our OTT platform, beIN CONNECT. In short, we are a hugely ambitious company, always looking to push the boundaries of technology and to lead the industry's evolution. I'm proud to say that we lead and not follow—not many companies can truly say that.

What does beIN MEDIA GROUP, as one of the main international symbols of Qatar, represent to the country, the Qatari population, and the Arab world in general?
We are thrilled and honored to be a part of Qatar's success. We are a global media company operating in 43 countries across five continents, but Doha is the heartbeat of our company. Our absolutely world-class studios in Doha produce a significant amount of the content seen by our viewers across the globe, and Doha is home to our state-of-the-art facilities and expertise. We, therefore, represent and reflect some of Qatar's positive qualities: modernity, innovation, collaboration, and an overall mission to connect the world.

We have seen a major threat coming from beoutQ, a pirate operation from Saudi Arabia broadcasting sports events. How has beoutQ impacted beIN MEDIA GROUP so far?
As has been well-documented, in June 2017, overnight a variety of measures were unlawfully imposed against beIN in our biggest market following the blockade of Qatar, including an illegal ban on the distribution of beIN. These measures are being challenged in international courts. beoutQ was subsequently launched from Saudi Arabia and developed into the world's most prolific direct-to-home pirate broadcaster: Ten live HD sports channels distributed over satellite combined with an IPTV function; best-in-class set-top boxes with their own branding and marketing, tailored advertising, a sophisticated subscription model, and customer care services on social media. Further still, beoutQ pays for neither the rights nor production. As a rights holder, it is your worst nightmare. However, beIN has not given in or let the situation change our ambitions—far from it. We have led the global industry fightback. We have deployed every technical measure possible to stop beoutQ, including hiring the best anti-piracy experts in the world and bringing legal action wherever we possibly can. We have also been continuously working with the UK government, the US government, and the European Commission to ensure all legal broadcasters and entities in MENA and the world are protected. Piracy is the single-biggest threat to the global sports and entertainment industry. If rights-holders are not able to protect their intellectual property, the value of their sport or competition will be zero. Without a shadow of doubt, beIN is leading the way on this industry-defining issue, and we will continue to do so.