WORLD CUP 2014
JUNE 12-JULY 13
Online streaming, as well as access to free-to-air channels, prove popular
SOME Singaporeans have found loopholes to enable them to get their World Cup football fix, both through the use of modern computer technology and old-fashioned rabbit-ear antennas.
Many are viewing matches online at the websites of free-to-air British television channels ITV and BBC iPlayer.
These channels are putting their content online to cater to consumers who are increasingly watching on laptops and on the move, but restrict the access only to users in their region.
However, with Virtual Private Network (VPN) services readily available online, foreign users such as those in Singapore can disguise their true identity as users from a restricted region in order to access these geographically blocked sites.
Tech blogger Alfred Siew, for example, stays up late to catch World Cup matches with UnoTelly, one such service that helps unlock "geo-blocked" sites.
During the World Cup season, the Canada-based company is giving users a 40-day free trial.
He enters the UnoTelly website, signs into his account and streams live matches from a list of foreign channels.
British channels ITV and BBC iPlayer are most popular while the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Netherlands Public Broadcasting are also listed as options.
He said: "The streaming experience was quite smooth. You can watch a match without frustration."
Meanwhile, users have also been enjoying the World Cup through fibre broadband providers MyRepublic and ViewQwest.
Streaming of the matches can be done with MyRepublic's unblocking service called Teleport, which is currently free for three months for new sign-ups to its fibre broadband plans.
Already, MyRepublic's traffic for ITV and BBC iPlayer has increased significantly from 750GB a month to 3TB (terabyte) this World Cup season, the company said.
MyRepublic user Nur Halmi, 35, is paying $39.90 a month for a 100Mbps plan with Teleport service.
He said: "I have not had hiccups in online streaming and it is still clear enough on a 40-inch TV. You also get better pundits like Gary Lineker and Rio Ferdinand across BBC iPlayer."
ViewQwest also provides the barrier-evading Freedom VPN at $10.70 a month with its fibre broadband packages.
Meanwhile, RTM has encrypted its RTM1 satellite signal source so that StarHub cable TV users, who are normally able to watch it, are unable to do so this World Cup season.
This has not stopped fans from using rabbit-ear antennas to get the signal.
One fan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said these channels were "clear" when she used a set of $3 antennas to get the signal from her house at Choa Chu Kang.
She could get RTM1, which screens the World Cup, and five other Malaysian channels.
Such clandestine ways to watch the World Cup could mean lost revenue for SingTel, which holds exclusive screening rights to the matches.
"SingTel is aware that this is happening and maintains that viewership of the World Cup on mioTV has been exceeding expectations," the telco said.
It added that, by skipping matches on mio TV, fans are also missing out on bonus content such as roving reporters in Singapore with live feeds.
Still, Siew believes that there are merits to a paid service like SingTel's mio TV.
"For UnoTelly, there are occasional stoppages, the channels might get stuck a few seconds," he said. "The picture quality is not as clear as mio TV."
Indeed, when Digital Life editor Oo Gin Lee tested those clandestine services, mio TV still proved to have the best picture quality.
I have not had hiccups in online streaming and it is still clear enough on a 40-inch TV. You also get better pundits like Gary Lineker and Rio Ferdinand across BBC iPlayer.
- Nur Halmi, who uses MyRepublic's Teleport service
NOTHING LIKE THE REAL THING
For UnoTelly, there are occasional stoppages, the channels might get stuck a few seconds. The picture quality is not as clear as mio TV.
- Alfred Siew, on the sites being unable to match cable TV's quality
WE'RE NOT DOING BADLY
SingTel is aware that this is happening and maintains that viewership of the World Cup on mio TV has been exceeding expectations.
- SingTel, the exclusive broadcaster here, on demand