Dream's nightmare crushes sports fans

ESPN Star Sports, HBO Asia hit by sat operator re-org

SINGAPORE -- A slew of international channels, including ESPN Star Sports and HBO, have lost some of their Philippines carriage as direct-broadcast satellite platform Dream Satellite TV struggles to meet financial obligations.
HBO Asia’s HBO and Max movie channels, Animal Planet and Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Animax have also been dropped, and discussions with Hallmark are believed to be still under way.
A Dream spokesperson confirmed Tuesday that carriage contracts had been allowed to lapse or been terminated while the platform continues to restructure and upgrade content security infrastructure.
Programming costs have been forced down as part of new financing requirements.
Dream’s subscriber base has been decimated by piracy, dropping from about 74,000 last year to about 38,000 now, the spokesman said on condition of anonymity. 
The infrastructure upgrade is scheduled to be completed by the end of August this year, he added. This would shut down pirate operations.
“Hopefully by December this year we will have some of the pirate users back and paying,” he said.
The plan is to being adding channels to the bouquet in January 2010.
Dream's channels are widely received around the region, including in Beijing, where sports fans this week bemoaned the disappearance of ESPN Star Sports
ESPN Star Sports's Adam Zecha, executive VP and head of sales for Southeast Asia, confirmed that the network's carriage deal with Dream had not been renewed when it expired at the end of April.
HBO Asia’s carriage contract runs to the end of the year and the Singapore-based regional network is believed to be seeking legal recourse in the Philippines. HBO Asia has not responded to requests for information.