Now TV apologises to fans who missed out on Six Nations rugby

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 February, 2014, 11:24am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 February, 2014, 5:01am

The former broadcaster of the Six Nations rugby championship in Asia is as "disappointed as customers" about losing regional airing rights to one of sport's biggest international events.

Hong Kong rugby fans are fuming after learning Dublin-based Setanta Sports can no longer broadcast the event, meaning they can't see the games on PCCW's Now TV, the city's largest pay-television operator.

"We are as disappointed as our customers about missing out on the rights," said Conor Woods, managing director for Setanta's Asia-Pacific operations.

Media rights agency MP & Silva, on behalf of Six Nations Rugby - the company that runs the tournament - sold broadcast rights to the Al Jazeera-owned beIN Sports after its four-year agreement with Setanta expired this year.

In Hong Kong, the decision means only subscribers to TVB's lesser-known Network Vision, which entered a two-channel partnership with beIN Sports last October, are able to watch the tournament, which kicked off on Saturday.

Now TV had 1.16 million subscribers in 2012; i-Cable trailed with 1.09 million and Network Vision had just 200,000.

Woods said Setanta had been doing a good job of bringing rugby to television screens across Asia after many years of the sport being "under-broadcast".

"We will continue to broadcast over 500 exclusive rugby games … and we will try our best to give the fans the rugby they want to see," he added.

A spokesman for Now TV said the network made "every effort" to secure the rights for popular sports "despite facing continual escalating prices of key sports".

"We regret that sometimes broadcast rights do change hands from third-party channels that we carry and we are sorry for any disappointment and inconvenience caused to viewers.

"Now TV and Setanta Sports will work together closely to address the needs of the Setanta Sports subscribers."