Singapore football fans received an early New Year's gift last night, with the return of live Spanish Primera Liga action on their television screens, three months after they were taken off cable TV here.
Local telco StarHub announced yesterday that it had inked a multi-year deal to show the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in action with beIN Sports, a Qatari-owned media company which had secured La Liga's regional broadcast rights back in August.
Last night's 11pm kick-off saw Real Madrid playing Real Sociedad.
The agreement will see matchesbroadcast live on SuperSports 2 (StarHub TV Ch202), as well as on the free cable channel SuperSports Arena (Ch112/205 and 76.25MHz).
Nicholas Tee, a senior executive for corporate communications and investor relations at StarHub, said that this was the quickest the telco could bring La Liga back to the fans, after failing to acquire the rights in August.
Howie Lau, StarHub's chief marketing officer, added: "We take feedback from our customers seriously and have been working hard to bring La Liga back to Singapore screens."
La Liga is one of the most popular football leagues in the world, with Spanish clubs winning 11 Champions League and Europa League titles over the last decade. Spain are also the reigning European champions and 2010 World Cup winners.
The announcement brought much cheer to La Liga fans here, some of whom have had to keep up with their favourite teams and players via laptop or tablet.
Said avid Barcelona and Sergio Ramos fan Jonathan Cheong, 14, a St Andrew's Secondary School student: "I'm glad La Liga is back on TV as there's usually some lag when watching on the Internet."
Yohann Lim, a 35-year-old manager, had missed his fix of La Liga, which he used to get at coffeeshops near his home. He is thinking of signing up for the rest of the season, saying: "I like Barcelona because they have an exciting style of play and they play quality football.
"I may consider getting a package now that La Liga is back on TV."
Sports Group subscribers will also be able to catch La Liga matches on their mobile devices. Log on to www.starhub.com/sports-group to find out more.
Fans can enjoy football action from the following leagues via StarHub TV: Barclays Premier League (BPL), Uefa Champions and Europa Leagues, German Bundesliga, Major League Soccer, K-League, A-League and S-League.
Those who have Singtel TV can also enjoy action from the BPL, the Champions and Europa Leagues, Dutch Eredivisie, the AFC Champions League, the Scottish Premier Football League and the S-League.