All must pay more to watch Premiership

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 November, 2009, 12:00am

With the battle for broadcast rights to the popular English Premier League over, soccer fans subscribing to loser Now TV have to decide whether to fork out an extra HK$131 a month to switch to Cable TV to watch matches.

Cable TV, which announced last week it had secured the rights for three years from the next season, said yesterday it would package the Premiership as a premium service and charge subscribers an extra HK$80 a month to watch it from August 1.

Those who have already subscribed to Cable TV's high-definition package will have to pay an extra HK$40 for English Premier League matches.

The pay-TV broadcaster also announced it would increase its basic monthly subscription next month from HK$239 to HK$259. The basic package includes more than 60 channels and sport events such as the 2010 World Cup and Uefa Champions League in standard definition format.

This means a football fan without a Cable TV subscription who wants to watch the Premiership from August will have to pay HK$259 plus HK$80, a total of HK$339. Compared to what current rights-holder Now TV charges, Cable TV is asking HK$131 more per month.

Now TV, which holds the rights until June, charges HK$208 for its Mega Sports Pack per month, which includes a range of sports, including the English Premier League and Spanish La Liga.

It announced last week it would cut the price for the Mega Sports Pack from HK$248 to HK$208 until June, and to HK$98 after June, if customers signed up or renewed their contract by the end of this year. Existing customers paying HK$248 for the Mega Sports Pack will get rebates after June, but only in the form of a selection of extra channels.

A soccer fan who is already paying HK$248 for the Mega Sports Pack and wants to watch all kinds of international matches from June will have to pay an extra HK$259 for Cable TV's basic fee plus HK$80 for the English Premier League - a total of HK$587 per month.

Cable TV subscription services vice-president Vincent Cheung said the English Premier League package would cover all 380 matches in standard definition and a minimum of 138 matches in high definition.

Cheung said the HK$80 English Premier League package was a special early bird deal, but he declined to reveal for how long it would last.

He insisted the price was reasonable - and good enough to allow the pay-TV operator to make a profit.

Cheung said Cable TV lost some customers after losing the rights to the Premiership in 2007, but subscriptions have been increasing this year and he expected the number of subscribers, at present more than 900,000, to exceed one million in the first quarter of next year. He declined to reveal how much Cable TV had paid for the rights to the Premiership.

He said now that the company had acquired the rights, it would increase resources in production and increase the number of channels.

In response to online complaints by soccer fans about Cable TV's customer service, Cheung said the company would expand its customer service section in January to improve quality of service.

He also said it would work with the government to prevent pirated viewing.


What soccer fans will pay to watch matches each month from June (HK$)
Cable TV

Existing customers: $239 (basic charge) + $80 (Premier League fee): $319

Customers who join or renew contracts after December 1: $259 + $80: $339

What they get:

English Premier League, World Cup, Champion's League, Bundesliga

Now TV

Present rate (includes sports package): $208

Customers who join or renew contracts before January 1: $98 (from June)

Customers who join or renew contracts after June: $148

What they get: La Liga, English FA Cup, J-League

Extra monthly cost for Now TV customers who switch to Cable TV to watch Premier League: $131

*Italia Serie A is on both Cable and Now until May