SingTel wins Barclays Premier League broadcast rights for Singapore

October 10th, 2012 | by Alfred Siew

Live football matches in the Barclays Premier League will continue to be shown on SingTel’s mio TV in the next three seasons, after the current exclusive broadcaster said this evening that it had won the TV rights for Singapore again.

Whether StarHub viewers will get to watch the matches on their cable set-top boxes, however, is a big question mark now, despite earlier efforts by the government regulator to force pay-TV operators to share their exclusive content with rivals.

SingTel has won non-exclusive rights to the 380 live matches from the next season starting in August 2013. This means it does not have to show the matches on StarHub’s TV channels.

That would have been the case if the content was exclusive, thanks to the cross carriage rules that the Media Development Authority had put in place to prevent pay-TV players bidding up prices for exclusive content.

After the Euro 2012 matches were shown on both SingTel and StarHub in June, football fans here have expected the same sharing of content for the next three seasons of the English League. But the arrangement looks to be different now.

Technically, StarHub is open to get the Barclays Premier League rights and show the matches on its cable TV channels too. Yet, that hinges on what price the FA Premier League in Britain will ask from StarHub.

If SingTel had paid a high price, it is unlikely the FA PL will give StarHub a discount. If StarHub can’t pay, then StarHub viewers don’t get to watch the football on their set-top boxes.

Should that scenario play out, it would indeed be bad news for football fans. The most-desired content on pay-TV will remain exclusive to one pay-TV operator and viewers will still need to get two set-top boxes to watch the most popular programmes.

At the moment, SingTel has not announced any prices for watching the upcoming seasons of the English league.

In a statement this evening, StarHub said it would only acquire the rights to the matches “if the price is right”.

Said StarHub spokesman Jeannie Ong: “We are surprised that FAPL did not conduct a tender for Singapore, departing from all past practice. We will be seeking clarification from FAPL before deciding on our next course of action. We will be keen to acquire the BPL only if the price is right.”

(updated with StarHub comments)

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