Early birds to pay $98 to catch World Cup action, a slight increase over 2018 prices
Singtel, StarHub and Mediacorp on Sunday announced a three-way partnership to beam World Cup matches, 21 days before the tournament’s kick-off on Nov 20. It brings to an end a drawn-out negotiation process that has stretched over a year.
Singtel and StarHub customers can catch all 64 games by subscribing to a World Cup package for an early bird price of $98 ($118 after the promotion period ends on Nov 6), which is a slight increase from the $94 (and a corresponding $112) that fans paid to watch football’s premier event four years ago.
Mediacorp will air nine games on free-to-air TV, similar to the arrangement four years ago. Then, it aired the opener, five group matches, both semi-finals and the final. Its costs were managed by the Government.
It is the latest an announcement for World Cup broadcast rights here has been announced since subscription was introduced in 2002, with some football fans expressing their frustration at the lack of updates from broadcasters. Broadcast information for the 2010 edition in South Africa were revealed 35 days prior to kickoff.
Packages to watch the 2018 World Cup in Russia - announced 50 days before the tournament began - were similar to those for the World Cup in Brazil four years prior, the only time rates had not increased.
The latest rise marks the general upward trend of costs for viewers over the last two decades.
The sharpest increase came in 2010, which followed a bidding war between Singtel and StarHub to showcase the English Premier League from 2010 and 2013, which Singtel won in October 2009.
Subsequently, less than seven months later, packages were announced at a quadruple of what fans had to pay in 2006.
In 2014, after another hike, this time of about 30 per cent, then Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Lawrence Wong explained in Parliament that world football body Fifa owns the rights to the event, Singapore is “a price taker and not a price setter”. He also said that globally, the price of sports content had been rising.
Fifa’s revenue from selling global rights to the World Cup has nearly doubled in the last 20 years. Rights for the 2002 World Cup netted Fifa US$1.69 billion (S$2.4 billion). In 2018, it collected slightly over US$3 billion.
Out of the 64 matches scheduled in Qatar, more than a third - 24 - will be played at 3am (Singapore time). This includes both semi-finals. The other kick-off times are:
6pm: seven matches scheduled
9pm: eight matches
11pm: 16 matches (including the Dec 18 final) and
Midnight: nine matches.
Elsewhere in the region
The Malaysian government announced in August that Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) would broadcast 41 of the 64 matches free. Of these, 27 will be beamed live.
The matches will be broadcast through three channels: TV2, TV Okey and Sukan RTM, as well as streaming platform RTM Klik. RTM will bear the RM32.5 million (S$9.8 million) cost, although the government called on private companies and government-linked companies to chip in.
Subscribers to pay-TV provider Astro’s sports pack - which is available for RM59.90 for a six-month subscription for new customers - can catch all 64 games.
TAP Digital Media Ventures, the country’s main sports and entertainment media company, announced late in July that it would broadcast all 64 games on pay-per-view channel, WC TV.
An “All Access Pass” package costs 1,999 pesos (S$48.50) and includes streaming options.
Media group Emtek acquired the rights and games will be aired on its free-to-air TV channels SCTV, Indosiar, O Channel and Mentari TV.
It will also offer matches on its pay-TV platforms Champions TV and Nex Parabola, as well as its streaming platform, Vidio.
On Monday Vietnam’s VTV network announced it had acquired rights for about US$14 million (S$19.9 million). This is nearly 30 per cent higher than the cost for the 2018 edition..
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