If you STILL can’t decide between red and green

August 17th, 2013 | by Alfred Siew

Source: Manchester United

So you’re going to miss the first Barclays Premier League (BPL) match tonight because you haven’t decided between the red and green camps.

Can’t blame you, not with the confusing maze of charges and discounts that both telcos are offering. But you still have till September to catch the rest of the matches.

First rule: SingTel is the sole TV rights holder in Singapore, so you have to pay the “red” camp directly. This doesn’t mean you have to watch the football matches on mio TV. You can still choose to StarHub it under the country’s cross carriage rules.

Here’s a quick guide for you.

1. The Manchester United/Chelsea/Liverpool/BPL fan
If you are a one-club man, that is, you support only one English team, then clearly the BPL is the most important to you. If that’s all you’re spending time watching, take your pick from either the green or red operator.

StarHub may seem to have the edge on this one in terms of discounts. It is offering to take as much as S$600 – S$30 over 20 months – off your StarHub TV bill if you sign up to watch BPL on its cable set-top box. That can be seen as an offset against the S$59.90 a month you have to separately pay SingTel for BPL.

That’s certainly attractive, especially if you are already a StarHub subscriber. Just remember that your SingTel BPL contract runs separately for two years, or 24 months, so there are four months where the StarHub discount won’t factor in.

Alternatively, if you want absolutely nothing else – not any other channels – only BPL, then go with SingTel’s standalone BPL offer, at S$59.90 a month. It’s not the best value in terms of the number of channels, but if you want the absolute cheapest subscription for BPL, the miostadium+ pack it is.

Who to pick: StarHub mostly… but do check out SingTel too.

2. The diehard football fan who follows every league
SingTel’s mio TV service has the most football channels while only the BPL matches are carried on StarHub’s cable TV box. If you sign up with StarHub, you won’t get to watch FA Cup or Champions League matches.

If you have to watch every single match that Manchester United or Chelsea plays in, then SingTel is your pick. Just make sure you stay up in the wee hours for those Champions League matches, and pray that your team stays long enough in the competition!

If you’re a diehard fan too of Italian, French and Spanish teams, SingTel has all of that in its stable as well. The deal that offers great value here is SingTel’s Action Gold Pack, which is going for S$64.90 a month and includes non-sports channels such as National Geographic too.

Who to pick: SingTel

3. The football fan cum family man/woman
SingTel’s Action Gold Pack should delight the football fan who occasionally watches some other non-sports channels. What if your spouse, children or parents want to watch other stuff, like kids’ programmes or drama serials?

Pick the operator carrying the most channels you want to watch. Is it Disney that the children absolutely need? Both SingTel and StarHub have that, fortunately.

But what about CBeebies, the BBC’s popular kids channel? That’s only on StarHub. And Cantonese dramas on TVB? StarHub has that. If you like niche programmes on, say, Food Network Channel or Asian Food Channel on StarHub, those are exclusive on cable TV as well.

Although SingTel is catching up with StarHub in its lineup, the more-established cable operator still has the bigger range of programmes, from food channels to even Japan-centric channels, like Hello Japan.

Who you pick depends on which channels you personally want, and that varies greatly. However, the chances of StarHub having a channel you want are bigger since it has more channels – at least for now.

Who to pick: StarHub

4. The StarHub or SingTel subscriber
If you are a long-time cable TV viewer who had signed up to SingTel only for football in the past, the obvious choice is to take up the StarHub discount offer and watch BPL on cable. If you never watched anything else other than football on mio TV previously, then it may be time to keep things simple with only a StarHub box now.

Do look through the channels on offer from SingTel though. It now has many of the most popular channels, for example, Disney and National Geographic. If you find most of the old StarHub programmes now on SingTel, then it might be worth considering switching to SingTel.

Either way, to cut cost and hassle, avoid two set-top boxes.

Who to pick: StarHub or SingTel (depending on what channels you have)

Other considerations
Note that SingTel requires you to sign a two-year contract to watch BPL matches. Even if you cut your StarHub subscription and have no set-top box, you still have to pay SingTel the remainder of the cost for the football programmes.

What about add-on costs like set-top box rentals? Factor them in, especially after the operator’s free rental offer is over. Both StarHub and SingTel offer this from time to time, so ask for any discounts you can get.

Don’t forget the hidden costs either. SingTel’s mio TV requires you to have either a SingTel home phone line (rental is about S$30 for three months, with additional costs for calls) or a SingTel fibre broadband plan, so consider those costs and whether you already have a contract with another broadband provider.

Finally, one burning question: why can’t you watch all the matches online? If you’re thinking about pirate websites, know that they are illegal. Plus, there is no guarantee you’d get to watch an entire match, since these sites are sometimes taken down without notice.

Should you sign up to watch on a legit overseas site using services like VPN (virtual private networking)?

That’s possible if you manage to find an overseas pay-TV operator that does that. Just note that the terms usually specify that you view the content outside of Singapore, so the operator has a right to terminate the service any time.

Why can’t the arrangements for watching the beautiful game be simpler and cheaper? Sadly, that’s not possible with big money involved in the game now, and the way the pie is being sliced.

Clubs are paying their superstar footballers millions to compete for the top prizes. Ultimately, your TV subscriptions go a small way to paying the salaries of Wayne Rooney, Luis Suarez and other footballers, so if you feel that it’s not worth spending a small fortune to watch them, there’s always the option to tune out.

NOTE: This article first appeared on the Breakfast Network.

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