What will the delay in securing World Cup rights cost?

While neighbouring markets such as Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia have already secured their broadcast rights to the 2014 World Cup, Singapore is still lagging behind in securing theirs.

Less than four months from the opening of the FIFA World Cup, local telcos SingTel and StarHub have yet to secure a deal to broadcast the matches. Both telcos have told Marketing that they are still discussing the matter with FIFA.

There are  several key concerns in the discussion. As most of the matches will be held during the early hours of the morning of 3am to 4 am, this might lead to a smaller number of subscribers and in turn affect advertisers.

StarHub’s Lee Soo Hui, head of media business unit said: “With most matches being played in early-morning time slots, StarHub does not expect a strong response from sponsors and advertisers that can help defray the cost of the content,” Lee added.

The wee hours also mean that many of the local F&B outlets that generally air the matches would be closed.

“These factors have made negotiations very challenging,” said Lee, adding that sports content is an important part of StarHub’s content line-up.

SingTel declined to comment on the matter, stating that it is simply still in discussions.

In 2010, The Straits Times reported that FIFA asked for more money for broadcasting rights because Singapore accounted for more then a tenth of the total world's pay out for the EPL television rights.

The inability to secure broadcast rights from both telcos yet is reminiscent of the 2010 event where consumers were charged higher prices (SG$70.62) to watch the matches. The telcos had to ultimately resolve to make a joint bid to air the sporting event. This was done just a month before the official games started. In comparison in 2006, the package was offered by for a mere SG$10.50.

Earlier last year, the telcos were also caught in a heated battle after SingTel contested the decision made by MDA asking SingTel to share English Premier League rights with rival StarHub. SingTel's failed appeal against MDA led to SingTel sharing EPL content with its rival StarHub at an increased pricing.