Cricket fans in Singapore unhappy with lack of Indian Premier League coverage on cable TV

 Mumbai Indians' Harbhajan Singh (left) during the 2016 Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket match between Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants on April 9, 2016.
Mumbai Indians' Harbhajan Singh (left) during the 2016 Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket match between Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants on April 9, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Cricket lovers have been caught off-guard by the news that the 2016 season of the popular Indian Premier League (IPL) will not be broadcast in Singapore.

Fans took to social media to express their displeasure after Saturday's (April 9) season opener between the Rising Pune Supergiants and Mumbai Indians was not televised by cable TV operators StarHub and SingTel.

Some claimed that no advance notice was given over the lack of coverage, which comes after last season's edition was shown on both networks.

Others noted that "IPL Channel HD" had shown up on StarHub's channel listing up until early this month, giving the impression that the matches would be televised.

Engineer Akhish Kalwant said he was told that IPL was included in StarHub's cricket package, which costs $32.10 a month, when he called its hotline two weeks ago.

"This is very disappointing for fans who expect all the top tournaments to be included in the package," Mr Akhish, 37, told The Straits Times.

The IPL is regarded as cricket's equivalent of the Uefa Champions League football competition.

The seven-week tournament features the game's top talents such as India's Virat Kohli, West Indies' Chris Gayle and Australian Steve Smith representing one of eight Indian state teams.

Lawyer N. Kalithesan, 45, said: "Both StarHub and SingTel had televised the T20 World Cup held in India last month, so we were logically expecting them to continue showing top-quality cricket."

In response to The Straits Times' queries, StarHub said it had sought to acquire the broadcast rights for the IPL "at a rate that would provide value to our customers", but discussions were not successful.

StarHub did not clarify why the IPL channel had appeared on its listing.

"Cricket Group customers can still look forward to world-class test cricket matches such as Australia vs South Africa, England vs Sri Lanka and England vs Pakistan," a spokesman added.

SingTel said that "at the last minute, the rights holder wanted to license this event at a price that was simply prohibitive to us and our customers".

To follow the action, fans in Singapore have turned to online streaming and live blogs on sites such as ESPNcricinfo.