Live sports at just 99 cents a week

Shalu Wasu, Eleven Sports Network (Singapore) managing director, holding an iPad showing the start-up screen of the Eleven Sports app.
Shalu Wasu, Eleven Sports Network (Singapore) managing director, holding an iPad showing the start-up screen of the Eleven Sports app.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Eleven's mobile plan excludes EPL fare but covers Serie A, Six Nations and NBA games

For less than a dollar a week, sports fans in Singapore will now be able to watch premium live content through their mobile devices.

Eleven Sports Network yesterday unveiled its new, low-priced subscription plan, costing 99 cents a week or $39.90 annually.

While it excludes access to live English Premier League football matches, it will have Italy's Serie A, England's FA Cup and League Cup games, rugby union's Northern Hemisphere Six Nations tournament and the National Basketball Association (NBA) games among its offerings.

Even without the EPL - which is part of the Eleven Sports Premier plan and starts from a one-year, $19.90 monthly contract - this is a compelling package, noted Eleven Sports Network (Singapore) managing director Shalu Wasu.

"One of our main objectives is to get people comfortable and familiar with paying for live streaming content," he said.

"In order to develop the market for the long run and educate consumers, we need to reduce barriers quite a bit and that's what we have done by lowering the price to less than $1."

The London-based online streaming service provider, which started operations in Singapore last year, has been expanding its subscriber base aggressively.

BROADENING THE BASE

In order to develop the market for the long run and educate consumers, we need to reduce barriers quite a bit and that's what we have done by lowering the price to less than $1.

SHALU WASU, Eleven Sports Network (Singapore) managing director, on its attractive package.

It secured the exclusive rights to this year's European Championship football tournament and now screens three live EPL matches weekly. In October, it announced a four-year broadcast deal with the NBA to complement its plate of sports offerings.

It has more than 30,000 subscribers here and is aiming to reach 100,000 by mid-2017.

Part of Eleven's confidence stems from Singapore's connectivity. According to the Ericsson Mobility Report in June, smartphone penetration rate here is more than 100 per cent - meaning that, on average, Singaporeans own more than one smartphone.

This is well ahead of the South-east Asian level of around 40 per cent. The global figure is around 54 per cent.

Furthermore, the Media Development Authority's inaugural OTT survey released in July noted that more than half (54 per cent) of 2,585 Singaporeans and permanent residents surveyed used OTT (over the top) video services.

Among adults, millennials - those aged 15 to 34 - watch sports the most, and 60 per cent of adults aged 15 and above watch videos on their mobile devices.

Cleveland Cavaliers fan Ong Guan Jie, 26, has relied mostly on a highlights compilation on YouTube for his NBA fix this season and was delighted with a cheap and reliable alternative through Eleven.

He said: "The price is definitely attractive and not being tied to a contract is also great. It gives me the flexibility to subscribe without long-term commitment."

Besides aiming for ardent fans like Ong, Eleven hopes to hit six figures by targeting non-traditional segments like students, tourists and travellers on short-term visits with its weekly subscription model.

Another course is diverting subscribers away from local telcos. StarHub has seen a 35,000 drop in pay-TV subscribers this year while Singtel TV has lost 11,000 subscribers in the first two quarters of its 2016-17 financial year.

It is still too early to tell what sort of impact Eleven's new pricing will have on the industry, said Aravind Venugopal, vice-president at consulting and research provider Media Partners Asia.

"Other SVOD (subscription video on demand) players and sports OTT (over-the-top) players will watch in keen interest, no doubt.

"But concerns still remain: What is the quality of subscribers you gain, what is the subscriber acquisition cost for these 99-cent subscribers and their payback period, and more importantly, whether they will be able to raise prices slowly in the future...

"In Eleven's case, it could be a marketing proposition to get folks to use the slimmed-down service, and try to upsell the EPL to them."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2016, with the headline 'Live sports at just 99¢ a week'. Print Edition | Subscribe