SINGAPORE - Unity was the overarching theme when Singtel, StarHub and Mediacorp announced a historic three-way partnership to beam the upcoming World Cup in Singapore.
In a joint release early Wednesday morning (April 25), the trio revealed that they were "collaborating for the first time" to deliver paid subscription packages for the June 14 to July 15 event in Russia to football fans here.
Fans will be paying the same prices as they did in 2014 to watch the World Cup on their home screens or mobile devices. These remain at $94.16 (early bird price till May 22) and $112.35 for those who sign up after.
In addition, Singaporeans can watch nine key matches on free-to-air television with Mediacorp, five more than in previous years. These are the opener between Russia and Saudi Arabia, both semi-finals, the final, and five group games - Argentina v Iceland June 16), Brazil v Costa Rica (June 22), England v Panama (June 24), Denmark v France (June 26), and South Korea v Germany (June 27).
The Straits Times understands that rates for businesses remain unchanged too.
This is the first time there has been no price hike since paid World Cup subscriptions were introduced here in 2002.
ST understands that the trio began discussions last year and paid a total of around $25 million to secure the World Cup broadcast rights this time round, a slight increase from 2014.
In a statement, the Infocomm Media Development Authority said: "The finalisation of this commercial arrangement gives consumers ample time to consider their options for accessing World Cup 2018."
Commenting on the development, Deloitte Singapore and South-east Asia sports business group leader James Walton told ST: "It's nice to see them working together instead of driving up the price through competition.
"In recent years, for both this and the Premier League, we have seen the drive to recruit subscribers and gain market share take precedence - which has led to ever increasing values of the rights packages.
"Since advertising revenue couldn't keep up, the only way to recoup costs was to increase the subscriber charge - but this was simply unsustainable."
Singtel TV customers who sign up for or renew their Trio, Variety or Value Pack packages on a 24-month contract can watch the World Cup games for free. This includes those who had signed up on or after March 15.
As a bonus, these Singtel TV customers can also catch all matches for free on the Singtel TV GO app anytime, anywhere.
"Having brought the Fifa World Cup to viewers since 2010, we know how important the tournament is to Singaporeans. We are pleased this year to work with our broadcast partners to give all Singaporeans front row seats to the Cup," said Yuen Kuan Moon, chief executive officer, Consumer Singapore at Singtel.
"Football is for everyone and we are excited to bring the drama and suspense of all 64 games to viewers via Singtel TV, Singtel TV GO and our CAST app."
StarHub customers who subscribe to the World Cup package will be able to watch the games on television via StarHub TV and mobile devices on the StarHub Go app, from which StarHub Mobile postpaid customers can stream with no local data charge.
StarHub chief executive officer Tan Tong Hai said: "Football unites people and nothing proves this more than the Fifa World Cup which turns even casual onlookers into die-hard super fans overnight.
"With matchday one quickly approaching, we are happy to put public interest first and take to the field together with Singtel and Mediacorp to enable all of Singapore to enjoy the beautiful game."
Mediacorp CEO Tham Loke Kheng said it would be producing "special programmes" for all three broadcasters in addition to making all 64 matches available on Toggle through subscription, and added: "Mediacorp is truly excited about bringing all the action and stories of the Fifa World Cup to Singapore audiences."
Engineer Ken Lee, 29, a South Korea fan, is already looking forward to watching the football extravaganza, and said: "It's good for consumers that prices have not increased.
"As a Singtel subscriber, I will take the opportunity to renew my mio Stadium+ plan to watch the World Cup for free."