Qatari World Cup streaming service partially unavailable in Saudi Arabia

The World Cup’s official streaming platform is unavailable in much of Saudi Arabia, subscribers told AFP on Saturday, saying they had not received an explanation for the outage.

The Tod TV platform is owned by Qatari broadcaster beIN Media Group, which was banned in Saudi Arabia for several years during a dispute between the two countries but was restored in October 2021.

“Due to matters beyond our control, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is experiencing an outage which is currently affecting TOD.tv, the official streaming partner of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. More information will be provided as soon as it becomes available,” beIN said in a message sent to partners and subscribers.

The Saudi government did not respond to a request for comment on the disruption, while beIN declined to comment.

Tod TV is the official World Cup streaming service in 24 countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Several subscribers in Saudi Arabia told AFP on Saturday that they have not been able to access the service since the World Cup began on November 20.

One said the service was completely halted about an hour before the opening ceremony was broadcast.

Another said the service still works briefly, but no longer than 10 minutes before an error message appears.

“Sorry, the page you requested violates Ministry of Media regulations,” the error message reads.

“I want my money,” a subscriber told AFP, saying efforts to get a refund for the service, which costs about 300 Saudi riyals (about $80) a month, have been unsuccessful.

beIN will broadcast 22 World Cup games in Saudi Arabia for free, including those of the Saudi Green Falcons, who stunned the world with their 2-1 win over Argentina on Tuesday.

The Saudi side were scheduled to face Poland on Saturday afternoon.

– mend ties –

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s 37-year-old de facto ruler, orchestrated a regional boycott of Qatar from June 2017, the same month he came first in line to the throne.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have cut ties with Doha over alleged backing of extremists and being too close to arch-rival Iran – allegations Doha denied.

During the boycott, beIN Media Group was banned in Saudi Arabia.

But Riyadh announced in October last year that it would lift the ban, paving the way for a Saudi-backed consortium to take over English football club Newcastle United.

The kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund paid $408 million for an 80 percent stake in the Premier League club.

The Saudi purchase of Newcastle proved highly controversial, with critics quick to deride it as an example of “sportswear” or the use of athletics to distract from human rights abuses.

The sovereign wealth fund known as the Public Investment Fund is now considering investing in beIN, Bloomberg reported last month.

Media Minister Majid al-Qasabi is a board member of the fund.

Prince Mohammed attended the opening ceremony of the World Cup where he posed with his Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani while wearing a Qatari shawl.

Prince Mohammed also ordered all government ministries and agencies to provide “any additional support or facilities required by Qatar” to host the event, according to a statement from the Sports Ministry.