Fans livid no 'live' IPL but telcos cite high costs

Gautam Gambhir plays a shot during the 2016 Indian Premier League (IPL).
Gautam Gambhir plays a shot during the 2016 Indian Premier League (IPL). PHOTO: AFP

Cricket fans in Singapore were expecting to see the likes of Virat Kohli and Steve Smith on television, but instead were left disappointed when it was revealed that the new Indian Premier League (IPL) season is not being televised here.

These fans voiced their unhappiness on cable TV operators StarHub and Singtel's social media pages, after Saturday night's season opener between the Rising Pune Supergiants and Mumbai Indians was not shown live.

Netizens expressed their displeasure that there was no prior notice about the lack of coverage, especially after the previous edition of the IPL was shown on both networks.

Currently on a one-year subscription with Singtel TV's cricket channel, regional manager Vinod Menon, 38, said: "I already called their customer service and told them about our grievances, but they are not waiving the fees. It is absolutely unacceptable that we're paying this much money, yet we don't get live IPL cricket."

StarHub's cricket group costs $32.10 a month, while Singtel's cricket starter package costs $19.90 a month.

Audit manager Thomas N. J., who has subscribed to StarHub's cricket package for almost three years, was "very angry" when he realised there was no live telecast of the IPL.

The 41-year-old brushed aside live streaming as an alternative means to watch the matches: "It is not a reliable option, you can't enjoy a full match, depending on the Internet connection. There is nothing else we can do apart from checking the scores online."

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

The telco did not clarify why the IPL channel had appeared on its listings.

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."

The spokesman added: "Fans can also keep up with the latest cricket news and exclusive behind-the-scenes features on these channels (Star Cricket HD and Ten Cricket)."

The popular seven-week IPL tournament is contested by franchise teams representing the eight Indian state sides.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2016, with the headline 'Fans livid no 'live' IPL but telcos cite high costs'. Subscribe