Champions League Singapore TV deal

Waiting game goes on

The Champions League trophy seen before a football match in Estonia, on Aug 15, 2018.
The Champions League trophy seen before a football match in Estonia, on Aug 15, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

Singtel screens first round of games but telco and StarHub in discussions for rest of season

The late European football drama continues as Singtel announced it would broadcast five Champions League group games early this morning, and six Europa League matches tomorrow morning.

In a Facebook post at 3.08pm yesterday, Singtel revealed the matches it will screen on mio Sports and noted in some replies in the comments section to "stay tuned for our updates".

Besides the Champions League games involving Manchester City and Manchester United as well as holders Real Madrid, it will show selected Europa League ties featuring Chelsea, Arsenal and AC Milan.

However, the telco made no mention of whether it has secured the broadcast rights to these two competitions for the rest of the season. The next round of European football action is on Oct 3-5.

This move - to telecast selected matches in Singapore when a firm deal to broadcast the entire season has yet to be struck - is believed to be unprecedented.

While Singtel had earlier responded on Facebook that it was in negotiations with DAZN to secure the rights, The Straits Times understands that the telco is now in discussions with Qatar's beIN Sports, whose logo was on Singtel's Champions League feed.

Barely 31/2 hours before the first round of Champions League matches kicked off at 1am yesterday, Singtel announced on Facebook that it would broadcast five games, which included the glamour tie of Liverpool against French champions Paris Saint-Germain.

Both Singtel and beIN declined to comment on the negotiations.

The cost of football broadcast rights has increased globally. The UK's BT Sport paid almost £1.2 billion (S$2.16 billion) for the three seasons of the Champions League and Europa League until 2021. It had forked out about £900 million for the previous three-season deal.

While Singtel subscribers heaved a sigh of relief that they were able to at least catch this week's action, StarHub customers were left out.

A company spokesman told ST it is still in discussions over the rights.

The previous three seasons of the Champions League and Europa League were aired on Eurosport, which held the rights. The channel was available on both Singtel and StarHub.

Liverpool fan Sean Chong said: "It is a big disappointment to miss out on such an exciting opener, when my friends managed to watch the 3-2 win on Singtel. I hope StarHub will be able to secure the rights for its subscribers by the next round."

Across the Causeway, after a similar impasse, Astro managed to secure a last-minute deal just before the first round of group-stage matches kicked off.

SEE FORUM

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2018, with the headline 'Waiting game goes on'. Print Edition | Subscribe