July 21, 2012 00:00 By Jintana Panyaarvudh
With three weeks to go before the English Premier League (EPL) 2012 season kicks off, football fans in Thailand are waiting to see who will win the broadcasting rights for the next three seasons.
Apart from the current rights holder TrueVisions, several bidders have emerged as contenders – GMM Grammy, RS, InTouch (formerly Shin Corporation), as well as foreign sports broadcasters such as Sportfive and ESPN.
Some bidders are negotiating with others to become allies or forge partnerships for the bid in order to be able to shoulder the extremely high licence fees. While GMM Grammy tried to jointly bid with TrueVisions or other leading broadcasters, RS is in talks with InTouch. But Thailand’s only EPL rights holder for decades thinks it will not be the safest way to secure the rights.
“Being an ally doesn’t guarantee victory or doesn’t mean the bidding fees will be cheaper. The only benefit [of the alliance] is we can share the risk,” Attaphon na Bangxang, TrueVisions’ chief of programme and content, told The Nation.
Attaphon said it could be possible to have an ally but how can they trust each other. Moreover, there will be some clauses in the terms of reference (TOR) to prevent bidding collusion, he said. For example, the bidder has to fill in the TOR on which channels the games will be broadcast.
Attaphon, who has taken part in winning the EPL rights for three circles (nine seasons) and oversees all content rights for TrueVisions, said that over the past 10 years, the licence fees had shockingly increased by 10-20 times.
He cautioned all bidders to be sensible and realise the truth of their own business before quoting the figure in the TOR.
If they put a crazy figure, the subscription fees will be absolutely high, he said. If you pay Bt10 billion for the fees it will be impossible to collect subscription fee of Bt100-Bt200 and you will get broke, he warned.
“We will never know how many viewers will subscribe or pay for us. Some think the EPL is the magnet [to draw viewers] but they are wrong,” he said.
TrueVisions’ three-year rights to broadcast the EPL will expire next year. As of now, there is no tender for Asia’s bid for 2013-15 from the Premier League (rights owner) yet. It was expected to begin late this year. According to Attaphon, the result will be known within one month after the TOR was sent to bidders.
The company will this season broadcast some of England’s top league matches on its entry-level package or knowledge package. The company will also provide a la carte channel for the premiership in the package too.