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Now TV beats i-CABLE to win Premier League

Choya Choi

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

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Now TV has regained the exclusive broadcasting rights of the English Premier League for three seasons starting with the next one.

The company had lost the broadcasting rights in 2010 to Cable TV, whose contract ends with the close of the current season in May.

According to a source, the fresh contract cost Now TV less than US$200 million (HK$1.5 billion), believed to be lower than what Cable TV paid for the right to air the hugely popular competition.

Cable reportedly earned US$60 million a year from the broadcasts.

With the Premier League due to air on Now TV, Cable contract holders might have to switch subscribers to watch their favorite football league.

But Cable holds the broadcast rights to the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League, which means fans wanting to have the best of both worlds will be forced to shell out more in subscribing to both broadcasters, political commentator and football fan Choy Tsz-keung said.

As the Premier League airs during weekend primetime hours and attracts many viewers, it may prompt Now TV to increase the price for the football channel, Choy fears.

Football commentator Li Tak-nang said the EPL is the most popular league for Hongkongers and its loss will have an adverse impact on Cable's viewership.

But this will depend on how Now TV prices its latest acquisition.

"We welcome the return of the Barclays Premier League to Now TV," TV & new media managing director Janice Lee Hoi-yi at parent company PCCW said.

"Barclays Premier League is one of the most prestigious football leagues in the world and to successfully regain the rights is a demonstration of our commitment to bring top-class sports content to our customers with superior viewing quality," she said, adding that Now TV took "a disciplined approach" in submitting its bid.

"We are confident that the addition of Barclays Premier League will bring a positive effect to our customer growth and operational results," she said.

Now TV also offers the Spanish La Liga, the English FA Cup and the Japanese J League.

Cable TV could not be reached for comment last night.


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