Cup could have been cheaper

Cup could have been cheaper
A man holds a Brazilian national flag outside the Arena Amazonia before its inauguration match between Nacional and Remo, in Manaus, Amazonas, on March 9, 2014. The Arena Amazonia is one of the stadiums for the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014.

Soon after SingTel announced on Wednesday that it had won sole broadcast rights to the Fifa World Cup 2014 in Brazil, its pay-TV rival, StarHub, came out with guns blazing.

It accused SingTel of refusing to play ball in making a joint bid for the rights, which it said would have led to shared costs and hence a lower price for consumers.

It said in a statement that had SingTel agreed with StarHub to bear equal costs of broadcasting the sport's biggest event, viewers in Singapore would have "definitely paid a cheaper price".

SingTel announced that it will cost World Cup fans $105 (before GST) to watch the month-long event in June.


But those who sign a two-year contract for its English Premier League (EPL) broadcasts will get to watch the World Cup for free, including those who watch the EPL on StarHub set-top boxes.

Under the "cross-carriage" rule, the World Cup will also be made available on StarHub's cable TV platform for a price of $105 on a standalone basis from SingTel - at least 20 per cent more than four years ago.

StarHub's chief marketing officer, Ms Jeannie Ong, said that it had made "a sincere offer to our competitor for a similar arrangement as the last World Cup (in 2010)".

"A joint bid would have spread the cost of the content and allowed both operators to offer the tournament at a more affordable price, benefiting all viewers in Singapore. Unfortunately, our competitor chose to acquire the rights exclusively," she said.

"Our competitor's World Cup offer sets a precedent for operators to acquire exclusive content at high prices to lock customers into extended contracts, which runs counter to the cross-carriage regime's objectives."

When contacted, StarHub's senior executive of corporate communications, Mr Nicholas Tee, said it was impossible to gauge exactly how much cheaper viewer costs would have been had there been a joint bid.

"Because the collaboration didn't happen, it's impossible to say how much viewers would pay - there are too many 'what if's," he said.

"If the costs had been spread across two parties, there would have been less cost burden, and we could all sell it at a lower rate. "If two people share and pay for a plate of nasi lemak, it will cost less for each of them. The same logic applies here."

StarHub said it would not give a rebate to its customers who subscribe to the cross-carried content, unlike with the EPL.

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