Olympics: MCCY says not prudent to spend more on broadcast rights fees for Rio Games

The Olympic rings at the entrance of an office building in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on July 19, 2016.
The Olympic rings at the entrance of an office building in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on July 19, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Unlike in the past when the Singapore government stepped in with extra funding, it appears there will be no last-minute intervention to secure live broadcast rights to next month's Olympic Games in Rio.

The Straits Times reported on Friday (July 22) that Mediacorp had inked a deal with Olympics broadcast rights holder Dentsu for only delayed telecasts of the sporting action during the Aug 5-21 Games.

The agreement, which includes digital platforms, will see the national broadcaster air at least 10 hours of delayed action daily, an Olympics news channel and daily highlights, on top of content produced by Mediacorp's crew in Brazil. Only the opening and closing ceremonies will be shown live.

In response to queries from ST, a Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth spokesman said on Saturday (July 23): "The government notes that prices for 'live' sports content of major games like the Olympics have been escalating in recent years; it has reached the point where we have assessed to be neither prudent nor value-for-money to spend more and more on escalating rights fees.


"Hence, the acquisition of rights for live sports content will remain a commercial decision. Singaporeans will be able to catch highlights of Team Singapore and other international athletes in action at the Olympics through free-to-air television programming."

In 2006, Mediacorp decided not to air the Commonwealth Games live, citing high costs as one of the reasons.

But the Media Development Authority and the then-Singapore Sports Council came forward with extra funding and live broadcast started from the fourth day of competition.

It is believed that this will be the first time since the 1984 Los Angeles Games that there will be no live telecast of any Olympic sporting action here in the Republic.

In 2012, Mediacorp paid about US$2.5 million (S$3.39 million) for the free-to-air fees for the London edition. This excludes technical costs, which could exceed US$1 million.

Dentsu's asking price for the 2016 Games is understood to be about a quarter of what Hong Kong paid. No official information is available, but reports said Hong Kong's free-to-air broadcaster TVB paid about US$25 million for the rights to the Games.

Under the current contract with Dentsu, Mediacorp can air an event only after the session has concluded.

For instance, fans eager to catch Joseph Schooling swim in the 100m butterfly, an event he is tipped to win a medal in, will watch the race after the session ends, over an hour later. The 100m fly final is set for Aug 13 at 9.12am (Singapore time).