World Club Championship a tournament too far for HK channel
The biggest club tournament in the world - the World Club Championship in Brazil - started this week and lasts until next Friday.
But fans in Hong Kong will not see the games because the rights holders priced them too steeply. That's the word from CABLE TV who are the SAR's leaders in soccer programming.
CABLE have shown great willingness to dip into their pockets for big tournaments, recently acquiring the 2002 World Cup to go along with Euro 2000. But this one proved to be a dollar too far.
CABLE's spokesperson said that the cost was simply too high but would not specify the price. There was also a feeling that only Manchester United and Real Madrid of the eight competing sides had any guaranteed name recognition with the Hong Kong audience, meaning at most only eight of the 15 matches would be sure of sizeable viewership.
Last week's choice of live Premiership match, Sheffield Wednesday v Arsenal, was a bit of an odd one as there were more appetising matches in the shape of Tottenham v Liverpool and Leeds v Aston Villa.
This week, however, CABLE make amends with a big helping of action from the FA Cup and Serie A, which resumed this past Wednesday.
The pick of the FA Cup round is Sunday's Manchester City v Leeds game, the clash of division leaders, with the Yorkshire side hoping to avoid three successive defeats.
The big game from Italy is Milan v Roma on CABLE Sports Channel 2 on Sunday/Monday. In a double-whammy move, CABLE are also showing Fiorentina v Inter at the same time on their Sports Channel 1 where the English games are usually shown. This is because there is no English game in that time slot.
The introduction of taped action from the Scottish Premier League was a bit of a disappointment. The first game shown last week, Hearts v Hibernian, was a good match but it was edited down from 90 minutes to one hour. And there was no English-language option on the several soundtracks available, meaning the Nicam facility was wasted.
CABLE have said their agreement with the producers in the UK does not specify a Nicam soundtrack so they are at the mercy of the producers as to whether or not the videotape of the match also includes English commentary. So it's a case of fingers crossed for the Old Firm match between Celtic and Rangers, scheduled for 10pm tonight.