The dust is settled and Singtel won the exclusive rights to broadcast the EPL from next year onwards. At the same time, it also wrestle away ESPN channels from Starhub.
This double blow is hard to take for Starhub and current customers of Sports Group on Starhub TV. This is because most of the sports crazy customers would have sign up 2 yrs contract with Starhub during exhibitions held every quarter.
Although I am a Starhub TV subscriber, I never subscribe to it's Sports group as it would easily cost me S$50 over dollars just to enjoy 3 basic groups and 12 sports channels. The three basic group are the Education, News and Chinese infotainment which entertains my whole family. If you wanted HD, that would easily cost more as you would need to add a HD decoder or HD Hubstation and subscribe to the Education HD pack for S$8. SPorts HD is provided free if you subscribe to the SPorts group. That adds up to over S$60+.
Not only are Sports Group expensive. Watching basic channels aren't cheap too.
In 2007, I subscribed to Mio TV too, just for the sake of enjoy a singe HD channel known as Equator HD. Although it is a no contract subscription, it was a hassle trying to buy a modem (not provided) that will work (ADSL2+). There were lots of hiccups and I hate the 2 min start up time of the mio decoder box! I also subscribe to other channels almost every month to make up the S$16.05 basic fees.
There weren't much to watch except the Hokkien and Cantonese video on demand programmes which appeal to me and my parents. Alas, we get back the dual sound with Cantonese or Hokkien programming only on Mio TV.
Starhub follow suit with their own VOD programmes in Hokkien and Cantonese. I did not have a hubstation and I wasn't able to watch it. So, I changed to a hubstation and incur more costs just to catch VOD titles.
The funniest thing is that the ever popular VV Drama, a popular channel with tons of TVB productions was only available in Mandarin. Starhub started another VOD channel, allowing you to watch it in Dual Sound but you have to pay an additoinal S$4 to watch it on hubstation. They then decided to remove the S$4 for the VOD channel and it is now back to Mandarin only, with a collection of the past 7 days screened shows.
Sometimes I just hate VOD. Both Starhub and Singtel made the same mistake, putting only 10 or 20 episodes per month. That is probably what they want to get you subscribed to the VOD channel. It is really irritating when you wanted to watch the final 10 episode but you have will have to wait for another 1 more month before you can view it.
I can understand that free to Air channels have national obligations to use Mandarin. Why is it so for PAY TV channels? Why make it so difficult for the elderly to enjoy a good show without paying so much ?
The good news is that, if you are into those dialect programmmes, you can subscribe to their tv stations and watch it first hand rather than to wait for the pay tv operators to bring them in 6 mths or later.
Back to EPL. With Singtel being the dominant sports pay tv provider, it will surely convert a portion of the sports fan. This is true for the pubs, clubs, coffeeshops. Existing Starhub customers would most likely stick with it with the 3 basic tier groups. In fact, Singtel mio TV has not as much interesting channels as compared to Starhub.
In fact, the same thing happened in Hong Kong a couple of years ago. The TV operator is still around but repackaged their programming with their own productions and source for more interesting programmes that can be bundled with their mobile plans. Unless one day, TVB, HBO, Star, BBC all these major networks defect to Singtel, Starhub will survive and learn how to survive better by fine tuning their cable tv packages.
Don't forget Starhub's bidding price of EPL S$250 million can now be channeled into having more interesting channels or promotions. Perhaps it is time to introduce a Chinese HD channel or adding dual selectable subtitling to different channels.