Sunday, October 4, 2009

StarHub Loses EPL

Singapore has only two pay TV operators: StarHub and SingTel.

So StarHub has lost the rights to screen the EPL as well as ESPN Star Sports to SingTel.

But if StarHub loses, who is the winner?

In my view, there are no winners. StarHub loses. SingTel loses. The consumers (i.e. the man on the street who loves football) loses. There are no winners in this case.

StarHub currently has 530,000 pay TV subscribers versus SingTel's 100,000 subscribers. Will losing the rights to EPL make StarHub a loser? Not necessarily so.

Cable TV does not constitue a large percentage of StarHub's revenue and probably does not contribute much to its profits. It is bundled together with other services (like the mobile services) and that is what makes it "profitable". SingTel by winning the bid at such a high price is most probably not going to break even or make any profits. They have won boasting rights but not profits in any sense.

So if SingTel is not winning and StarHub is not winning, the consumers have to be winning right? Wrong.

Most consumers would not be switching over to SingTel's Mio TV just because of the sports channel. Not all who subscribe to cable TV watch football or sports for the matter. My parents have cable TV but they certainly do not watch sports. So they will definitely not be switching over to SingTel's Mio TV.

Most households in Singapore I believe do not watch sports. Sports are usually followed by males ranging from their 20s to 40s. At these age group, very few of them have their own homes. And those that do would probably have to consult the wife who will have to forgo the many other wonderful channels that StarHub provides.


What will be the alternative? They will most probably turn to free online streaming casts of these football matches which they can easily obtain over the internet. The images might not be of that high quality. But what is one to do?? Or they could head down to the pubs and hope that the pubs do subscribe to Mio TV.

So StarHub loses, SingTel loses and the consumer loses.

How on earth did we get ourselves into such a Lose-Lose situation I wonder?

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