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Fifa World Cup 2018

Boost for Hong Kong football fans as Viu TV to air 19 free Fifa World Cup matches from Russia

The opening game and final plus games from the knockout stages will be broadcast to give fans ‘an unparallel viewing experience’

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 March, 2018, 9:49pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 March, 2018, 5:09pm

Hong Kong’s World Cup soccer fans will be able to watch 19 matches from this summer’s tournament in Russia, including the opening match and final, for free after paid station, NOW TV, secured its broadcasting rights.

However, fans will have to pay a subscription fee if they want to watch all 64 matches from the world’s biggest soccer extravaganza.

Now TV, who secured broadcasting rights from competitor LeEco in December, announced on Saturday that all World Cup matches, from June 14 to July 15, will be covered live by the station with 4k coverage. English commentary will also be available.

The 19 free games will be shown on ViuTV, PCCW’s free network.

An early bird package for all 64 matches will cost HK$280, but users must also subscribe to other Now TV plans worth over HK$100 a month for a required period in order to enjoy complete World Cup coverage.

Four years ago, TVB, the sole broadcaster for the 2014 Brazil finals, provided 22 matches for free, while the rest of the games could only be watched through their subscription paid channel.

Viu TV will air 19 free matches that will also include the two semi-finals while the remaining games will be announced later.

In 2016, internet giants LeEco secured the Hong Kong broadcasting rights for the 2018 World Cup finals, costing them US$80 million – double the amount TVB paid for the 2014 tournament in Brazil.

However, the mainland based company has since run into a series of financial problems and in December, Now TV announced they had secured the 2018 World Cup finals broadcast rights from Fifa.

A reliable source said LeEco could not meet the payment schedule handed by Fifa and had to ask help from Now TV, who became the broadcaster for Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong international Yapp Hung-fai said Belgium could be the team to watch in Russia. “They are the dark horses and although they do not have many super stars, they are always dangerous as a team,” said Yapp.

“Defending champions Germany should be the favourites as they are strong in all departments and most of all, they can always perform consistently in major tournaments.”