(SINGAPORE) If history repeats itself, local telcos' race to recover the hefty cost of broadcasting the World Cup 2010 tournament is set for a nail-biting finish.
'From our previous experience, we generally see an increase in the number of sign-ups closer towards the start of the event,' a StarHub spokeswoman said.
This sentiment is shared by rival Singapore Telecommunications, which also scored the right to telecast the tournament locally. 'We have another eight days till the World Cup and we expect that there will be many people who will make a last minute decision,' a SingTel spokesperson told BT.
Both telcos declined to reveal the take-up for their early-bird offers but both said they hope to recoup the amount paid to Fifa.
Their initial offer of $70 to catch all 64 matches expired on Monday and consumers will now have to fork out $94 to get in on the action.
Even at the discounted rate, the price is three times higher than the amount charged in 2006. This proved to be a sticking point for many Singaporeans.
Besides taking to forums and Facebook groups in the thousands to voice their dissent, some disgruntled soccer fans are even planning to stage a protest at the Speaker's Corner this Saturday.
Consumers have to bear the brunt of a major price hike due to Fifa's higher asking price this time around.
Fifa is believed to have demanded US$30 million initially but months of protracted negotiations finally allowed the two telcos to close the deal at around US$18 million last month.
Although all matches are shown 'live' on StarHub's cable TV channels and SingTel's mioTV service, subscribers may experience a split-second delay compared to watching live programmes on free-to-air television.
This is because the original video feed has to be adapted for cable broadcast and for SingTel, the signal has to be converted to Internet data packets for transmission over its mioTV platform.
SingTel said the lag could be up to seven seconds, while StarHub said there is no 'noticeable difference' between cable and free-to-air TV.