Singapore – Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (SingTel) announced that it had won the bid for the rights to the Barclays Premier League matches for three years commencing August 2010. These include rights for mio TV, as well as the internet and mobile. Industry estimates are putting the winning bid at between S$300 million and S$400 million (US$212 million to US$282 million). StarHub is believed to have paid US$150 million for the current three-season cycle which ends in 2010. BPL execs had previously told TVA+ that Singapore is a very lucrative international market for their rights, second only to Hong Kong. SingTel has also secured the exclusive broadcast rights to a suite of sports networks and services from ESPN STAR Sports (ESS) starting from mid-2010. Three of the channels are ESPN, STAR Sports and STAR Cricket that are currently available on StarHub Digital Cable TV. ESPNEWS, a brand new 24-hours sports news channel, is planned to go ‘live’ on SingTel’s mio TV in November 2009. Statement says that the other exclusive sports services will be unveiled soon. Speculation on those other channels includes (basic tier offering) ESPN Asia and an HD channel. Questioned about the cost impact to the consumer, Allen Lew, SingTel’s CEO Singapore said that, “Football fans…. will not be charged more than what they are currently paying to their cable TV operator.” While he was clear to make the distinction that consumers will not pay more for football, he would not be drawn on the cost of other sports channels which are currently one Sports package on StarHub. Asked whether SingTel and ESS had submitted a joint bid, Lew said that the conditions on a joint bid were very complicated. The FA Premier League will entertain joint bids but do not allow dual exploitation of rights. In a statement entitled ‘StarHub to shed BPL and ESPN STAR Sports Channels’, StarHub implied that the company was not willing to overbid this time around, and industry observers say the fact that bidding did not go to a second round indicates that StarHub’s bid was at least 10% lower than SingTel’s. Second round bidding only occurs if bids are within 10% of each other. “While we are committed to offering quality sports content, we are mindful of the balance in meeting consumers’ expectations with regard to price, and shareholders’ expectations in terms of profits. Presently our Sports package is priced below the cost of the content that makes up that package. Our bid for BPL was aggressive, but also made with the intent to hold retail prices stable,” said Kathleen Syron, head of content, StarHub.
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