Now TV to cut fee for sport package

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 12:00am

Internet-television broadcaster Now TV has slashed its sports subscription fee, days after its exclusive broadcasting rights for the hugely popular English Premier League soccer were snatched by rival Cable TV.

But Cable TV subscribers may need to pay more than they are currently, if they want to watch the Premier League next season.

Pay-television group i-Cable Communications, owner of Cable TV, announced on Monday that it had acquired the right to broadcast the top English league's soccer matches for the next three seasons.

PCCW, owner of Now TV, which will continue to broadcast the Premier League until the end of this season in May next year, has however won the exclusive rights to broadcast Spain's La Liga in Hong Kong for three years, starting this season.

Now TV, which has 992,000 subscribers, announced yesterday that Mega Sports Pack customers who currently watched the English Premier League were able to watch the Spanish league from this week without additional charge. And a big discount will be given if they decide to renew their contract before next year.

'In an early bird offer, before January 1, 2010, customers opting to sign up or renew [their contract] early can enjoy a special price of only HK$98 per month from June 2010 onwards,' the company said last night. Currently, football fans pay HK$208 per month for the package.

For those who decided to join, or renew the package, after June next year, the monthly fee would be HK$148 per month, the company said.

It added that all existing customers whose sports-pack contracts were still in force after the end of the current Premier League season would be given a bonus from May.

'The bonus will be in the form of a credit for customers to purchase other Now TV channels. Now TV will advise each customer their bonus credit and contact them in the near future,' the company said.

A spokesman for Cable TV, which has more than 900,000 subscribers, said currently its sports channel was sold as a bundle together with other channels, and the monthly fee ranged from about HK$200 to HK$350, depending on the channels.

'As for English Premier League next season, we may sell it as a new channel,' a spokesman said. 'But no concrete plan has been set. There may be a monthly fee adjustment.'

Cable TV also won the exclusive rights to show next year's World Cup and Uefa Champions League soccer matches, the Bundesliga and part of the Italian Serie A.

Executives familiar with the bidding said earlier that Cable TV had paid more than US$200 million for the rights to the Premier League, and it was likely that football fans would have to dig deep into their pockets.

Fee halved

Now TV Mega Sports Package subscribers pay HK$208 a month

Now TV is offering an early bird deal to those who sign up or renew before January that will see them paying, from June, a monthly fee of: $98