Friday April 20, 2012
The real test of sharing will be for BPL
Friday Reflections - By B.K. Sidhu
TELEKOM Malaysia Bhd (TM) and newcomer Asian Broadcasting Network (ABN) senior executives must be smiling all over by now.
This is because they want to provide the same content that satellite TV provider Astro provides but there has been some roadblocks, and often the latter is blamed for having exclusivity of content.
If pay TV operators want subscribers, they must provide compelling content, and it is this content that ensures subscriber stickiness. And sports content is much sought after in every country, and especially football in this country.
For the past two years the lobbying for sharing of pay TV content has started. That was about the time when IPTV made its debut in this country. For years we had only free to air channels like RTM1 & 2 and TV3, but Astro changed the way we viewed TV by bringing content via satellite to us.
TM offers IPTV services, so does REDtone International and Maxis Bhd will launch its offering by middle of this year and YTL Communication later this year. ABN is the new digital cable TV operator that plans to bring content to our living rooms via cable network by mid-year.
All these offerings on different platforms change the way we can get content on all the devices that we have now. But to stay loyal to one operator we must get what we want.
Hence, the concept of sharing of content comes to play. This has been practised in several countries like India, Australia, Britain and Singapore.
What drove Singapore to change the rules of sharing is when both its telcos, SingTel and Starhub, fought furiously in a bid for a sporting event. The stakes were raised and they ended up paying a lot for content. When the cost of content is high, the consumer ends up paying more for content.
In March 2010 the rules of content sharing was introduced in Singapore and today both SingTel and StarHub share content.
The concept of sharing has reached our shores and on Wednesday a ministerial determination was issued for sharing of sporting events of national significance.
It is a good move that would mean that anyone, even without pay TV, is able to watch some of the sporting content like World Cup and EPL final.
Among the sporting events listed for sharing are the Summer Olympics, Commonwealth Games, Asia Games, SEA Games, Sukma, Thomas and Uber Cup, All England, BWF Super Series, AFC Asian Cup, Asean Football Federation Cup, FIFA World Cup (semi finals and final) and EPL (final match).
Some see this new directive as a game changer for the industry as it could force players to come together to bid for content and share. But there again, content providers have their own rules as to who they want to sell content to and whether their content can be re-sold. That is the sticky part and it is really up to the players to work things out. Hopefully the industry will come together and there will be some rational thinking of how everyone can benefit. Most importantly, the subscribers must not be made to pay more for sports packages.
The real test whether this concept works will be when the bidding for the next season of BPL's broadcasting rights begins in the third quarter of this year. Let's see who will have a bigger smile.