Telco war rages on with rebates and bundles

SINGAPORE - Starhub has upped the ante in the latest twist to the battle with rival telco SingTel for the eyeballs of local English Premier League fans.

On Thursday, the cable television provider unveiled a new rebate structure for football fans for the upcoming Premiership season on its platform, crosscarried from SingNet's mio TV.

This comes just two days after they acknowledged their previous offer had been confusing for potential customers.

StarHub is now offering customers, new and existing, up to $30 off their monthly bills for up to 20 months if they sign up for the EPL content.

Fans are still required to sign up for at least one of StarHub's bundles before they can get the standalone EPL channel, priced by SingTel at $59.90, while SingTel does not have this prerequisite.

However, StarHub's cheapest bundles - the HD Packs - are currently at a promotional price of $22.47, which means a football fan on a budget will essentially just pay $59.90 a month for 20 months, with the rebate.

This is on a par with the cheapest mio TV EPL football price plan, assuming the fan already has broadband or fibre-optic Internet connection at home.

StarHub's latest rebate is not tied to any contract and will be void when a customer terminates the cross-carried EPL channel or ceases to be a StarHub cable TV subscriber.

Customers have up till Sept 30 to sign up for this offer, but the telco has advised fans to do so by Monday as it takes five working days to activate the cross-carriage. The new EPL season starts next Saturday.

StarHub head of home solutions Lin Shu Fen said: "We empathise with customers who are confused by the myriad of offers available in the market and are here to help with a simple solution to their EPL-related woes.

"In short, all StarHub TV customers who choose to watch the EPL cross-carried on our platform can enjoy this offer, regardless of their pay TV package.

"As we cannot set the price of the cross-carried EPL package and will not earn anything from it, this rebate offer is the best we can do to help our customers."

The rebate will also be offered to StarHub customers who signed up for the cross-carried EPL channel from Aug 1.

Customers who have signed up for the Surf & Watch bundle, which came with a $300 rebate, will now receive the enhanced rebate instead.

In response, a SingTel spokesman said: "Even with the competitor's new offer, our Gold Pack bundle continues to provide the best value. Only we have the complete football coverage fans want, including the Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup and La Liga."

The Gold Pack featuring 80 channels, costs $64.90 a month and is not cross-carried onto the rival platform.

Earlier, SingTel announced its offerings to entice football fans to stay with mio TV - it is offering a $480 rebate for customers who sign up for a Gold Pack and a 150Mbps fibre broadband plan.

The bundle costs $115 instead of $135, factoring in the $20 monthly rebate.

It has also launched mio TV Go, a mobile phone app that allows only its subscribers to watch EPL matches on selected tablets and smartphones.

Manchester United fan Stanley Goh, 28, had been mulling over his options.

The sales executive said: "StarHub's latest offer does sound quite tempting and clearer than its previous one, but I think I will have to go study both SingTel and StarHub's deals a little closer before I make my decision."

Liverpool supporter Charles Fong, 36, was still not convinced though.

The Reds fan of 24 years said: "(The packages offered) are still significantly more expensive than the previous package (mio TV's $34.90 Sports+ bundle). I think I will look for alternatives for my football fix, like watching it outside with my friends."

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