StarHub – BT

StarHub scores Serie A rights

THE merry-go-round of soccer programming keeps on turning, with StarHub now scoring the broadcast rights to Singapore Telecommunications’ (SingTel) exiled football content, the Italian Serie A.

In a statement released yesterday, StarHub said it will start screening the 2010-to-2012 seasons of Italy’s premier football league on its cable TV platform.

A total of 118 matches for the current Serie A campaign will be offered in high definition to subscribers over the Football Channel, as well as its SuperSports and Sports HD offerings, with up to six games being shown ‘live’ per week.

The fate of Serie A, which features renowned players such as Brazilian full-back Maicon and newly crowned African player of the year Samuel Eto’o, had been in limbo since the new season kicked off on Aug 29 last year.

SingTel had acquired the rights to the Italian league from worldwide rights holder MP & Silva in 2008 in a bid to boost the sports programming on its then-fledgling mio TV platform.

However, the operator chose not to renew the contract when it expired in June 2010, two months before it started the inaugural screening of the more popular Barclays Premier League (BPL).

SingTel had paid top dollar to prise the BPL away from StarHub in 2009 for three seasons until 2013, a move which has helped to more than double its mio TV subscriber base over the last 18 months.

The demise of Serie A on local screens even prompted a few hundred fans to rally behind an online Facebook petition for its return, with StarHub eventually answering their plea.

With Serie A, Singapore’s second-largest operator now has access to the lion’s share of popular European soccer leagues, with BPL being the lone exception. The company is already showing the Spanish La Liga and the German Bundesliga.

StarHub’s contract with MP & Silva is non-exclusive, so Serie A will not trigger the government’s new cross-carriage mandate.

Unveiled in March last year by the Media Development Authority of Singapore, cross-carriage forces pay-TV operators to allow rivals to carry their exclusive content.

It seeks to do away with the prevailing practice of paying premium to hog prized programmes, and the undesirable consequence of passing on the price hike to consumers.

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