SingTel, StarHub – BT

StarHub, SingTel spice up pay-TV offer with free channels

THE scuffle between Singapore’s two pay-television rivals has intensified as both turn to free channels as their new weapon of choice.

StarHub will offer its cable television customers two free sports channels from next year to give them incentive to stay tuned despite its loss of the Barclays Premier League (BPL).

The complimentary offerings include a new 24-hour self-packaged sports channel slated to debut in January 2010. The channel will carry a variety of sports programming from tennis to soccer, and will showcase at least one football and wrestling match per week. In addition, Eurosportnews, a channel now included in StarHub’s sports group, will be free from July next year.

Meanwhile, Singapore Telecommunications is giving early bird specials to sports fans who sign up for the BPL 2010/11 and the ESPN Star Sports suite of channels, or the standalone BPL 2010/11.

They will get for free, until July 31, 2010, its Football Frenzy Pack, which offers all the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matches – both ‘live’ and demand – over TV, mobile phone and online, as well as the Italian Serie A (09/10 season) matches on mio TV.

Subscribers will also get a free 30-day preview of all mio TV programmes, excluding movies and video-on-demand content.

The tweaks come on the heels of StarHub’s loss of the prized BPL broadcast rights to SingTel last month. The red camp outbid StarHub to score exclusive access to the 2010-2013 seasons of the soccer league.

To add insult to injury, SingTel also convinced ESPN Star Sports, currently the anchor tenant of StarHub’s sports portfolio, to switch allegiance from the middle of next year.

To reflect the loss, StarHub said that it would slash the price of its sports group by more than 50 per cent from next July. It now charges $25 a month for the package. Further changes to sports channels and prices will be announced in the first half of 2010, it said.

In a related announcement, StarHub said that it has joined hands with UK-based Mirror Group Newspapers to launch a new football portal for its mobile subscribers. StarHub customers will able to access the free site and receive EPL and Champions League updates on their phones without incurring cellular data charges.

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