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7 million CTH subscribers seen on EPL deal

Cable Thai Holding is set to became the country's largest subscription-based TV operator with 7 million subscribers by 2015 after having acquired the broadcasting rights for the English Premier League soccer matches for the next three seasons.

Yesterday, CTH announced that it had won the tender for broadcasting rights to the EPL in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos for three seasons starting from season 2013-14 to 2015-16. The company beat current rights holder TrueVisions and other rivals GMM Grammy, RS and Malaysia-based Cubic Associated.

An industry source estimated that CTH had offered more than Bt9 billion to win the bid.

Chairman Wichai Thongtang declined to disclose how much his company had bid for the media rights but he believed that his company would be able to maximise profits from the sports content.

"Bank loans will be a key source of funds to pay for the EPL broadcasting rights," Wichai added.

He said the company would work on a marketing plan immediately after chief executive officer Kittsanan Ngampatipong returns from London. The marketing plan for the EPL will be announced early next year.

Speaking to The Nation from London, Kittsanan said he already had a plan in mind and consumers would see something new from CTH.

A source close to CTH said that under the new marketing plan for EPL, its subscribers were likely to pay about Bt300 on top of the standard package, priced at Bt300, to get access to the popular soccer league.

Wichai said the EPL programme would support the company's master plan to make his company the country's leading content and platform provider offering triple play and telecom services by 2015. During that period, the company would spend Bt20 billion on upgrading its fibre-optic network by grouping its members into 10 key clusters.

This is part of the company's ambition to enter the new arena of triple play - cable TV broadcasting, broadband Internet and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) - by next year.

CTH expects to have more than 7 million household subscribers by 2015. Currently it serves 300 cable TV operator members with 3.5 million subscribers across the nation.

Additionally, Watchara Watcharapol, a key shareholder in CTH, said the company would study the possibility of having a business partner such as TrueVisions, GMM Grammy or RS in order to expand viewership in the country, if EPL's terms and conditions allow it.

Meanwhile, an industry source analysed that TrueVisions, the current EPL rights holder, might suffer a huge loss as an estimated half of its subscribers are fans of the English soccer league.


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