Now TV scores with Premier League deal
Now TV has made a spectacular comeback in the battle for broadcasting rights for the top-rated English Premier League, securing coverage for three seasons starting in August.
A journalism professor said its major rival, Cable TV, which holds the rights until the end of this season, would have to fight hard to secure rights to other football events.
While waiting to conclude the final agreement, PCCW, operator of Now TV, said last night it was negotiating exclusive multi-screen rights to broadcast the Barclays Premier League for three seasons starting from the 2013/14 season.
It said it expected to conclude the agreement "at the earliest possible opportunity", which would allow it to broadcast 380 matches in both high and standard definition, for video on demand and internet and mobile platforms.
The operator, which had 1.16 million subscribers at the end of June, did not disclose financial details of the deals.
PCCW's managing director for TV and new media, Janice Lee, said they were happy to have secured the rights for "a reasonable price" and would be offering the matches on all of PCCW's platforms.
When asked if it would put up the price of its services, Lee replied: "As usual, we will introduce offers that provide the best value and best suit our customers' viewing needs."
In 2006, PCCW beat Hong Kong's largest pay-television operator, Cable TV, to the draw, paying HK$1.56 billion for the right to broadcast League matches for three seasons.
But Cable TV, operated by i-Cable, made a comeback in 2009, winning the rights with a bid believed to have been about HK$1.8 billion.
Now TV now holds the rights to air Spanish La Liga matches until 2014-15, as well as English FA Cup and J League games.
To Yiu-ming, an associate professor of journalism at Baptist University, said losing the bid was a big setback for Cable TV, which might lose many subscribers to Now TV.
Whether or not it could win the bids for other football events such as La Liga would become crucial to its business plan.
"A cut in Cable TV production costs for the coming three years will be expected. They will use the money they save for investment in other football events," To said.