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Money, money, always sunny in EPL rights bid

If one goes by the global trend, the bidding fees to secure rights to broadcast the English Premier League (EPL) - supposedly the world's most popular football league - will definitely be higher than the previous bids, as the league has grown in popularity in recent years with viewer numbers increasing significantly.



In June, the EPL secured its status as world football's richest competition with an astonishing 3.018 billion-pound (around Bt150 billion) deal for domestic (United Kingdom) TV rights for three years (2013-2015 seasons) with BSkyB and BT. The agreements are a remarkable 70-per-cent increase on the current contract.

Figures published in the UK's Daily Mail website showed that the value of the deal of a Premier League game in the UK will be 10 times higher than when it was launched in 1992, up from 633,000 pounds per game to 6.53 million pounds in 2013.

The EPL is also expected to bank around a billion-pound prize from the overseas' TV rights market. In September, the first of the new deals being done around the globe on a territory-by-territory basis saw Scandinavian countries pay a 35-per-cent increase for their next contract.

In the United States, the Premier League changed its broadcast partner from Fox to the NBC Sports Group. The league statement did not give financial details of the three-year deal but it was reportedly worth some US$250 million (Bt7.75 billion). NBC's bid was reportedly three times what Fox is reportedly paying.

The EPL broadcasting rights in Singapore went to Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (SingTel) for three years commencing in August 2013. These include rights for its mio TV (a pay-TV service), as well as online on miostadium.com and on mobile via SingTel's BPL application.

In China, broadcaster and current rights holder Super Sports Media Group was just awarded the exclusive EPL rights for a six year partnership, starting from seasons 2013-2018 in mainland China and Macau. No financial details of the deal were disclosed but it was reportedly worth significantly more than the $50 million Super Sports had been paying annually.

Back in Thailand, current rights holder TrueVisions' three-year deal to broadcast the English soccer matches is expiring this season. Officials from the league visited Thailand in July to give a presentation to prospective bidders.

The latest news is that TrueVisions, GMM Grammy and RS Plc are the only Thai companies taking part in the bid. Cable Thai Holding, Workpoint Entertainment and Malaysia-based Cubic Associates Group have reportedly been disqualified.

TrueVisions was estimated to have paid Bt2.79 billion to win the rights to broadcast the matches in the last three seasons, according to a media analyst. The winning price this time could be as high as Bt4.65 billion, a 66-per-cent increase, for the next three seasons.

All bidders for the rights in Thailand will offer their bidding price at the end of this week after having submitted the tender offer. If there is no second round of bidding, the EPL would take one week to consider the bids before announcing the winner. So, the result is expected this month.

Judging by the high winning bids in other countries, it is obvious that money is the deciding factor. Whoever places the highest bid is likely to secure the rights. Also those who have multiple platforms would gain advantage. Any business involved with several channels - TV, Internet and mobile phones - that lets subscribers enjoy superior experience and convenience by offering an integrated platform that would lead to more eyeballs has the advantage.

It is true to say the Premier League is all about money. Hopefully, the high bidding fees won't become a burden to subscribers.


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