Consumer complaints online forces Astro to ink deal with UEFA Champions League

Astro has successfully secured broadcasting rights to the latest season of the UEFA Champions League, following negotiations that took “longer than expected”, the broadcaster said on Twitter.

The broadcasting network came under pressure recently for not having rights to the UEFA Champions League, with several netizens threatening to terminate their subscription if Astro did not broadcast the competition.  According to reports on The Star and New Straits Times published yesterday, Astro said it would not be broadcasting the UEFA Champions League due to the increase in cost of broadcasting rights. As such, it did not wish to charge consumers more to watch the games for fear of backlash.

The latest news to ink the deal led some netizens praising Astro for meeting the demands of consumers despite cutting it close, while others said they will be resubscribing to Astro after having terminated their subscription previously out of unhappiness. Meanwhile, some questioned if the move was a marketing stunt to jack up the price of the sports package.

But clearly, Malaysians are passionate about the football. According to statistics from Meltwater between 17 to 19 September, online mentions of Astro and the UEFA Champions League peaked on 18 September 2018 with 668 mentions. Majority (77%) of online sentiments during the period were neutral, while 19% were positive. Trending themes included “UEFA Champions League”, “latest developments”, “Astro” and “matter”.

Companies have been facing increasing pressure in the recent years to ink broadcast deals for live matches. In 2014, Singapore lagged behind in securing broadcast rights to the World Cup. This was due to concerns that most of the matches were held during the early hours of the morning, hence might lead to a smaller number of subscribers and in turn affect advertisers.

When Singtel eventually inked a broadcast deal less than four months before kick off, some football fans were outraged that they had to pay a hefty price of SG$105 to enjoy the matches without committing to a contract.

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(Photo courtesy: UEFA Champions League Facebook page)

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