RS eyes up rivals in EPL bidding war
The battle for the rights to broadcast the English Premier League (EPL) for the 2013-2015 seasons is hotting up as more bidders enter the fray. The Nation's deputy managing editor Jintana Panyaarvudh talks to Surachai Chetchotisak, CEO of RS - who won the rights to televise World Cups 2010 and 2014, Euro 2008 and Spain's La Liga (2012-2014 seasons) - about the firm's chances in the upcoming bidding war.
Why is RS interested in bidding for EPL broadcast rights?
The only reason is that it is good content. It's the most popular league in Thailand. But the licence fees should be reasonable and close to what we are planning to offer. If they are higher, we will not be serious about bidding.
For RS, it is fine if we win but okay if we don't, because our current business doesn't rely on the EPL. It is not a "must win", but we want to get it, and we believe our content-management style will be different from others.
Can you reveal how much your bid is worth?
It's confidential. There is an international law prohibiting me from revealing the bidding figure.
Do you think current rights holder TrueVisions have an advantage because they know the figure of the previous license fee?
No, because the real value is the value in the market.
What do you think about partnering up and jointly bidding for the EPL?
Absolutely. We will find a partner, because EPL broadcast needs huge investment and management. We have talked to several parties including InTouch [formerly Shin Corp, and the country's largest telecoms firm]. There is no fixed formula for running a business nowadays. It depends what's appropriate. If partnership can enhance strength and make it a win-win situation, it could be possible.
We have no set figure for the number of partners - the most important thing is synergy. It's not only the money they can bring in, but also having the same idea as us, being on the same wavelength, and helping each other, which are very important.
If RS wins the EPL rights, how much will the subscription fee be?
We can't reveal it now. I don't think any bidders can tell, because, first of all, we have to know how much the licence fees will be. One thing I can assure you is that if we win, we will provide our viewers with easy and greater access to the broadcasts and with friendly fees.
We will use the same principle as for our La Liga rights. Viewers can watch 380 live matches of the league via our satellite TV set-top Sunbox for a Bt100 monthly fee. We will also share up to 50 live matches, including "big matches", with [free TV's] Channel 7 and Channel 8 via satellite.
Does RS have a business plan in place for the bid?
Yes. Officials from the Premier League [rights' owner] will visit Thailand this month to give a presentation for bidders. I think the winner will be announced by the end of September.
As the rights holder for three international tournaments and the Spanish League, is it difficult to secure the rights?
No. Whoever offers the highest [amount of money] will win. They will also consider the bidders' management plans, readiness and experience. But the hardest part is deciding how much we should offer. We need a good plan. We need to know the true value of the league and know how to handle the licence once we obtain it. If we can make a profit it means we have offered a reasonable bid.
What do you think about your competitors? Which company has the advantage?
No one has any advantage. All bidders, including RS, have an equal chance to win until the results are announced.
What do you think about the competition for sport content and its broadcast rights in Thailand?
If we look at it from a business angle, this is a transition period. It is a new opportunity for new players to join the industry. It's now easier to start a satellite TV business and platforms and offer set-top boxes. The competition will be absolutely fierce.
The viewers will be at an advantage as it is going to be a consumer's market. Viewers should not be worried that they will be forced to buy more set-top boxes. Of more concern for them would be a monopoly. The more the competition, the cheaper the fees will be. Operators have to compete to win consumers' hearts.
After the EPL bidding is settled, there will be only two or three set-top boxes. RS is focusing on providing "killer" content - La Liga and the EPL. Customers will not pay for any other league.