BeIN Sport Connect Review
Quality of Video Stream6
Content on Offer7
Value for Money6
Finding your current sporting options limited on television? How about a service offering 18 separate channels covering over 13,000 live events per year, including Football’s major leagues, Tennis, Basketball, Rugby and Formula 1 for around US$13 per month? If all this sounds too good to be true, you could just be right…
BeIN Sports originally started life as Al Jazeera Sport, and although they have a presence in many regions including Europe and the United States, it is their home turf Internet based MENA service which really shines, and this is where our review will focus.
Across their 18 channels, they really do offer a wide range of events, covering football, tennis, basketball, athletics and a lot more, but for many people, it will be one of the various football leagues that cinch the deal. Whilst other services provide coverage of just one league (such as PremierLeaguePass.com), beIN offers choice as well. In fact, it would be pretty much impossible to do anything else on a weekend once you see how much sport you will have at your disposal.
The cost of beIN varies across the Middle East, so for the purpose of this review, prices will be published based on the Egyptian service. The current 12 month “Global” pass costs US$130 (£82), with a monthly subscription service for US$13 (£8.20), or day passes of US$6 (£4.10) exist. (There are also cut-down prices for Arabic only channels if this interests you, at US$100 for a year, or $10 per month.)
But the big question is, does the Global pass include the English Premier League? And unfortunately the answer is a little more complicated than just yes or no, but generally speaking no.
Officially, beIN has the EPL rights for the MENA region, and at the very beginning of the current season, they did in fact stream live games. However, due to a large number of commercial enterprises in the UK who accessed beIN’s footage instead of Sky’s, beIN made the controversial decision to end EPL game coverage – affecting legitimate MENA customers as well.
Of course, being a Middle Eastern service, one shouldn’t expect every game or match to come with English commentary. This is a fact of life, and beIN shouldn’t be criticized for this. That said, they do have a number of sporting events in both Arabic and English (or other languages) and on some occasions it is actually possible to select an alternative audio stream. But, for many sports this is not the case and the only commentary will be exclusively in Arabic.
Video quality is probably the most important thing regarding sports streaming as the fast action can easily result in pixelation and annoying artifacts much more noticeably than standard television. Too much pixelation or a poor bitrate stream, and it can be impossible to spot the ball, let alone simply enjoy the match or game. On the other hand, unlike catch-up or on-demand television, live streaming can not afford a large buffer, so if the bitrates are too high, those with less than perfect Internet may also suffer.
In this respect, beIN Sports sits very much in the middle. The highest quality streams I’ve tested so far have been averaging 2400kbps, which is acceptable, but not quite the quality levels required for flawless sports viewing.
Finally, where BeIN Sports seriously looses its way, is in platform support. Outside of the expected web browser portal, there are really only various options for mobile devices. It can also be confirmed that there is no AirPlay support either (outside of mirroring), which is quite a significant letdown. Sadly also, no Smart TV widgets, apps for gaming consoles or a Roku channel are available, which could leave BeIN Connect Sport’s IPTV service with difficulty to watch on an actual television.
BeIN Connect’s website is a seriously cluttered affair. Along the top are buttons for Watch Live, Videos and the TV Guide, which to be honest, are the core features of this service. Underneath that are all the extras, including sports news and selecting specific sporting codes, and under that is pretty much everything mankind could squeeze in, including the kitchen sink.
One thing to keep in mind is that the timezone can be selected at the top of the screen. This will be especially handy in ensuring the TV Schedule is correctly adjusted to represent actual time in your region.
Once one of the channels is selected and playback begins, the channel bar appears across the bottom of the video window, allowing quite a an easy way to switch between channels. Just for reference, 11HD and 12HD are the main English language channels, whilst 13HD to 15HD are the French language channels, channel 16HD is broadcasting mainly in Spanish, with the remainder in Arabic.
Outside of live streaming, the website offers a wealth of sporting information, from news and fixtures to results and tables. It is just that it is hidden somewhere underneath all that clutter.
Video quality has never peaked above 2400kbps during my tests. Clicking the quality button on the video window will bring up a display showing your current dynamic bitrate, and my tests showed this to be reasonably accurate. 2400kbps will still exhibit pixelation and visual artifacts, but if you sit far enough from the screen, it won’t be terribly bad to ruin the event.
- Acceptable video quality.
- Access to 18 channels of sport.
- Good range of sporting information also available in English, French or Arabic.
- Timezone can be adjusted to reflect reality.
- TV Schedule can display only live events.
- Can pause live streams.
Bein Web StandingsBein Web PlayBein Web Football
- Not the easiest method to watch streams on a living room TV.
- Flipping between tabs and channels is not as rapid as it could be.
- No way to manually force bitrate.
- Cluttered appearance.
This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:
As expected, beIN also offer Android and iOS apps, with the iPad version being tested here. Make sure though that the app is downloaded from an appropriate MENA iTunes app store, and that the time zone on your iOS device is manually set to match. So in effect, an Egyptian version of beIN requires a Cario time Zone, or if downloaded from the United Arab Emirates, set the time to Dubai. Failing to do so will render the TV schedule unusable and greatly increase your chances of missing a vital match.
BeIN’s iPad app is far better designed then their browser portal, with a vastly improved UI. My only serious design issue lies with the overuse of the colour purple – something that really should be contained in greater moderation.
Although the Home screen kicks off as a good starting point, offering a selection of current news videos and a banner scrolling across the top of the screen providing direct links to live channel feeds, the TV Schedule button on the top/right will probably be the most visited part of the app. Tap the button, and a full daily schedule will appear with direct access to any of the 18 channels.
Playback is a much simpler affair than via the web, with no info on current bitrates, no closed captions and missing the pause button. About the only additional thing that can be done, is switching between windowed or full-screen mode.
Regarding playback, AirPlay is effectively unsupported. Granted, beIN has allowed mirroring, but since video quality drops to an almost unwatchable quality, mirroring is far from an ideal method of shifting the video across to the main TV.
This is a pity as video quality is quite excellent on the small iPad screen, and would still appear relatively adequate on a full-sized TV. My own tests showed a similar 2400kbps as advertised for beIN’s web stream.
- Fast and responsive.
- Good TV schedule.
- Very good video quality
- Comprehensive Stats page.
Bein iPad TableBein iPad ResultsBein iPad PlayBein iPad HighlightsBein iPad GuideBein iPad FootballBein iPad EPLBein iPad Bein
- No official AirPlay.
- No automatic time-zone setting.
- No ability to pause.
- No bitrate info.
- No closed captions.
This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:
If you are outside of the MENA region and still want to access beIN’s Middle Eastern service, you will need to have a VPN pointing to the appropriate country, or a compatible Smart DNS service such as Unblock-US. Either the VPN or Smart DNS must be configured and running first, otherwise even accessing beIN’s web page may not be possible.
Next, visit beIN’s webpage here, and select your subscription. We highly recommend avoiding the 12 month sub if you are watching from outside of MENA, as beIN have been known in the past to cancel customers without refund if they find out viewing is taking place outside of the official region.
Signing up is quite straight forward, but keep in mind that only the Global passes offer non Arabic channels, and you will also need either a PayPal account, or a supported credit card.
Keep in mind that a monthly or yearly sub may be reoccurring, and to end this you will have to cancel a subscription. To cancel, visit the My beIN page from the link at the top of the screen, and select Cancel Subscription.
BeIN Connect Sport offers some of the widest range of sports on the Internet at some of the best prices, especially when you consider there are no fewer than 18 channels to choose from.
Video quality is excellent on smaller screens such as mobile devices, but merely adequate on larger monitors, with the iOS app in particular being very well designed.
On the other hand, not all events offers English commentary, which could be a downside for many people. And with serious limitations restricting the ability to watch on an actual television, the overall enjoyment of all those live channels may not be as accessible as the subscriber could hope. Granted, it is possible to just whack an HDMI cable from a suitably equipped laptop to a modern television set, but this is hardly a permanent solution for most people.
We were also not particularly impressed when beIN ended coverage of the EPL at the beginning of the 2014 season, leaving many legitimate customers in the lurch. If there was one way to end trust in an organization, many could point to this as a classic example.
Still, for the quality of video on offer and the vast range of sports, beIN Sports could very well be a viable option.
- Good video quality when it reaches the maximum bitrate.
- 18 channels of sporting goodness
- Wide range of sports including most major football leagues.
- Pause Live TV via the web portal.
- Not all commentary is in English.
- May or may not include the EPL.
- Very limited hardware support.
- Difficulty to watch on a proper television.
15.08.2013: Review published: Score 6.4 – Amazing HD streams.
15.08.2013: Channel list updated as Al Jazeera Sport added a further 6.
18.08.2013: Updated with confirmation on no AirPlay support & comparison screenshots.
19.08.2013: Updated with iOS app review & increased score as AirPlay became available. Also, video score dropped down due to high bitrates held back by AJS. New score: 6.6 – Great HD Streams.
29.08.2013: Warning over latest iOS app with AirPlay support broken and constant video quality issues. Score dropped to 6 – Great Range of Sports.
07.11.2014: Updated for beIN Sports, and score dropped to 5.6 due to lower quality streams & no AirPlay.
Found this review helpful? Why not like on Facebook and help others find it?