It will cost fans $105, excluding goods and services tax, to watch the World Cup in Singapore, after SingTel announced on Wednesday that it had captured exclusive rights to football's biggest event.
The month-long tournament, which kicks off on June 12 in Brazil, will also be available to StarHub viewers at the same price due to the cross-carriage rule, which requires exclusive content to be shared across platforms.
However, fans can watch for free if they ink a two-year subscription to either of SingTel's two packages which include telecasts of the English Premier League - the cheaper of which costs $59.90 a month.
A Media Development Authority spokesman noted: "This is the first time a pay-TV retailer is offering World Cup content on a complimentary basis..."
Still some fans baulked at the new $105 stand-alone price, which is nearly 60 per cent more than the $66 the last World Cup in 2010 cost for early subscribers, while StarHub claimed its rival's decision to go it alone was behind the increase.
It revealed that it "made a sincere offer" for a joint bid similar to the one in 2010, which "would have spread the cost" and allowed the telcos to "offer the tournament at a more affordable price".
"Unfortunately, our competitor chose to acquire the rights exclusively," its statement added.
StarHub also took issue with the free offer, saying it "sets a precedent for operators to acquire exclusive content at high prices to lock customers into extended contracts".
SingTel's chief executive officer of group digital life Allen Lew however defended the $105 pricing, describing it as "a reflection of the value" the telco is bringing.
All 64 live matches will be made available on mobile devices through its mio TV Go app.
He also pointed out how in 2010, a deal for World Cup rights was settled only a month before the tournament. "We want to give certainty to Singaporeans, which is why we signed the deal three months in advance."
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.