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You may not have heard of beIN Sports – or you may be aware that it is an up-and-coming sports channel based in Qatar in the Arabian Gulf. Originally operating as Al Jazeera Sports Channel, the company describes itself as a global network of sports channels, though “global” isn’t entirely accurate. They operate in the Mena region (Middle East and North Africa) and in Europe they are currently in Spain and France. In North America, they have channels in both America and Canada and they are also in Australia and New Zealand. Asian locations include Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.
The sports rights they can offer vary from place to place, because in some countries they would be in conflict with rights already granted to other channels. France, for example, has no dedicated sports channel and so beIN Sports is able to offer its citizens Ligue 1, Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga and the European championship. This contrasts with the UK, which is already well supplied with dedicated sports channels, and that is probably the reason why beIN sports currently has no channel there. In the USA and Canada, the channel has the rights to three major championships in motorcycle racing, as well as all the major European and some South American soccer, and there are actually two channels in the USA – one English and one Spanish.
The channel has all sorts of football rights in Indonesia, Malaysia and Hong Kong, while the Australian channel was formed with the acquisition and rebranding of Setanta Sports Australia. There is also beIN Connect, often known as beIN Sports Connect, which extends connectable devices to include Xboxes and Playstations connected by broadband or Wi-Fi. Rugby union and rugby league are both available in certain countries, as well as handball and tennis (the channel can show Wimbledon in France, for example, but not in the UK) and a number of other sports. Cricket and professional wrestling were added in 2018.
Although the channel is not established in the UK, in Indonesia it set up a 24-hour channel dedicated to nothing but the English Premier League, showing every single one of the 380 matches in a season, as well as Premier League World (a magazine-type program shown each week) and expert coverage before and analysis after each match. Anyone not closely interested in the English Premier League who finds this level of coverage surprising might like to remember the story told by a regular visitor to Nairobi in Kenya. Although his preferred hotel was quite close to the airport, it usually took up to three hours to get there thanks to the chaotic and sclerotic state of Nairobi traffic. On the night in question, his taxi driver made the journey in only twenty minutes. There was absolutely no-one on the road. When the visitor asked what was happening, the taxi driver said, ‘Manchester United are on TV.’
All has not been plain sailing for beIN Sports. The French government blocked its attempt to sub-license its programming to the French broadcaster, Canal+, because of fears of monopoly dominance of the market. Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia all compete in the Africa Cup of Nations, but their citizens at home were unable to watch on their domestic television channels because the rights for the Mena region had been bought by beIN Sports and the fees they wanted to charge the North African channels were beyond those channels’ ability to pay.
Saudi Arabia first fined the channel and then banned it because programs were being bundled with unrelated services at additional costs. It has to be said, though, that Saudi Arabia’s relationship with Al Jazeera, the previous owner, has always been difficult because Sunni Saudi Arabia sees Al Jazeera as a Shiite mouthpiece. England’s Premier League keeps a tight rein on the matches beIN Sports can show in the Mena region and, at one time, restricted the channel to one match a week because the league did not believe that the channel was sufficiently careful about preventing its broadcasts being streamed into the UK. All of which brings us to the question:
Let us say, for example, that you are a great fan of Cristiano Ronaldo and you want to watch him playing for Juventus in Serie A. If you were in America or many other countries, you could simply switch to the beIN Sports channel – but you’re not. You’re in, let us say, the Netherlands. Or you’re in the UK and you want to watch Richard Keys, who, at one time, was a well-established football commentator on British terrestrial television, chairing his program on the beIN Sports Malaysian channel. What are you going to do? A VPN is the answer.
When you log onto the Internet, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) allocates you an IP address. IP stands for Internet Protocol and your IP address tells anyone who looks at it exactly where you are. So, if you are that person in the Netherlands or that other viewer in the UK, and you attempt to log on to a beIN Sports channel, the channel will read your IP address, know where you are, and refuse to allow you access.
Don’t give up. Switch your VPN app on and ask your VPN provider to connect you to a server in (for the Netherlands viewer) the USA, because they have Serie A access or (for the UK viewer) in Malaysia where the Richard Keys program you want to watch is broadcast. The channel will now see an IP address that either says you’re in America or says you’re in Malaysia. You will be granted access. You’ll be asked to pay a subscription, but so you should – this article is about getting the access you want to have, and not about stealing things. And all you have to do now is watch your program. You had a problem and your VPN app has solved it for you.
You should always choose your VPN provider with care. You want to know that they are fast, that they are secure, that they are robust, and that they have an automatic kill switch so that, if for any reason, your VPN connection drops, you are cut off immediately so that your real identity and location is not exhibited for all to see. Ideally, you also want the set up to be easy and to have an unquestioned thirty-day refund available in case things don’t work out the way you hoped. Your chosen provider should keep no logs, should have encryption as good as any the most advanced military forces use, and should be absolutely secure against hackers. All of the providers we are about to mention meet these criteria.
As we’ve said, beIN Sports isn’t really global, even though it says it is. NordVPN really is global and the only servers it has that won’t access beIN Sports are the ones in the Philippines. As they have servers in many other countries, that’s not going to be a problem. The network is extremely fast, it’s reliable and it has demonstrated an excellent capacity to go straight past geoblocks.
The network is very fast and there are servers in a hundred and sixty locations around the world, including most of the places where beIN operates. Split tunneling means that you can be watching beIN Sports on a server in a far distant country on another continent while also accessing websites in your own country.
This may be the best service for someone who has never used a VPN before and is not technically terribly competent, because it is extremely easy to set up and to use. There are almost 5000 servers in sixty countries.