How much do we have to pay?
That is the question that many English Premier League fans in Singapore are asking, after Singtel TV announced yesterday that the pay-television provider has secured the rights to broadcast the English Premier League for the next three seasons, starting from August next year.
Singtel has held the rights to broadcast the popular league here since the 2010-2011 season.
In a release yesterday, Singtel's Chief Executive Officer, Consumer Singapore, Yuen Kuan Moon said: "We are delighted to bring the Barclays Premier League to Singaporeans for another three seasons.
"Singtel TV fans can be assured that their football experience stays uninterrupted at rates that remain affordable."
But fans wonder if they would have to pay more to see the likes of Sergio Aguero and Alexis Sanchez in action from next season.
In 2013, Singtel announced that its standalone EPL packages would cost $59.90 per month, after the Media Development Authority (MDA) mandated that Singtel had secured an exclusive deal with the Premier League to broadcast EPL matches here from 2013 to the end of the current season.
Under the cross-carriage rules, the telecommunications giant had to share exclusive content with its rivals upon request, which StarHub did.
Before that change, Singtel offered EPL coverage under its Sports+ bundles, which cost $34.90 per month.
In response to stories online on Singtel's announcement yesterday, Facebook user Wai Zai said: "It doesn't matter who gets the rights, the more important point is how much they are going to charge subscribers."
Another Facebook user, Tj Frederike Jin, said: "Cross-carriage of EPL is costly too. (You pay) $60 a month just for EPL on a two-year contract.
"There is a three-month break every season, so you are actually paying $1,440 for only 18 months, which works out to a costly $80 per month for just EPL only."
Deng Lei added: "Now, it seems like I have to cancel (my subscription) and there'd be no need to argue with my kids (on what to watch) during match days."
According to a Daily Mail report last month, Singtel forked out £190.1 million ($408.8m) to secure its current broadcast deal, the highest for any individual company.
Singtel and the Premier League both declined to comment on the accuracy of the report in previous media queries, but the journalist behind the Daily Mail report, Nick Harris, told The New Paper that he had "been following these matters closely for 20 years" and that he has "good inside information about a lot of TV deals relating to the Premier League".
In response to TNP's queries yesterday, Singtel declined to reveal the amount of their winning bid for the new deal, or if the new deal is an exclusive one, and therefore subject to cross-carriage.
Singtel's Managing Director, Home, Consumer Singapore, Goh Seow Eng, said: "Cross-carriage is a matter for the regulator to handle.
"We will work with all relevant parties to make sure fans get access to the best league experience."
In response to queries, a StarHub spokesman said: "StarHub was engaged in the bidding process for the Premier League.
"In a climate of ever-increasing cost of sports rights, we tried to acquire content at a sensible rate to keep the Premier League affordable for the majority of viewers in Singapore.
"While we are disappointed that we did not win, we have been advised that the rights were won on an exclusive basis and hence the content would be subject to cross-carriage, in accordance with MDA's cross-carriage regime."
It is likely that Singtel had to fork out a significantly larger amount of money in the new deal, as compared to 2012, when it won the rights from 2013-2016.
After all, the Premier League inked a record British TV rights deal in February with broadcasters Sky and BT worth £5.136 billion ($11b) - a 70 per cent increase on their existing deal.
Broadcast network NBC also extended its current broadcast deal in the United States by six years, starting next season, at the cost of about US$1b ($1.42b), or US$166m a year.
The broadcaster pays about US$83m a year under the current deal, according to a New York Times report in August.
While new subscription rates for Singtel's football packages will be out in "due course", Goh said: "Suffice to say, Singtel is committed to keeping rates affordable for football fans, and all Singtel customers will continue to enjoy their football content at the best prices."
This article was first published on November 11, 2015.
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