Singapore’s football fans will be able to catch UEFA Champions League and Europa League matches on both Singtel and StarHub for the next three seasons, after it emerged yesterday that both local players were outsmarted in their bid to broadcast the live matches.
Eurosport, owned by Discovery Communications, won the exclusive media rights to the competitions for three seasons, the Today newspaper reported. It would make them available to Singtel and StarHub.
This means StarHub would have the live matches on its channels after a seven-year absence. In that time, Singtel had managed to gain exclusive rights to the competition.
Though there are no indications of price hikes yet, the immediate reaction from fans could be one of relief. At least they won’t be forced to sign up for one pay-TV operator to watch the matches, usually shown in the wee hours of the night.
Singtel has, in recent years, been criticised for raising prices for its Champions League coverage. Its bidding for exclusive TV rights in recent years has also angered some fans who believe it has been driving up prices.
The good news this time is that Singtel and StarHub apparently put in a joint bid to avoid a bidding war.
That could point to a change from years of ruinous competition in the wrong direction, after the introduction of cross carriage rules in Singapore to curb over-bidding for TV rights.
As a new round of auction for TV rights for the Barclays Premier League is up soon, how local telcos bid for them will affect how affordable it is to watch the popular football matches each weekend.
In Britain, broadcasters are ready to pay a record £5.1 billion for latest round of TV rights, upping the cost by 70 per cent £3 billion.
Overseas, the cost of watching the matches won’t be cheap either, with the Financial Times estimating that a modest increase will push the price up for broadcasters to more than £3 billion.