StarHub, SingTel joint bid for World Cup

Singapore competitors team up to control soccer costs

HONG KONG -- In a sign that the cost of football rights in soccer-mad Asia may be reaching a painful level, Singapore TV rivals StarHub and SingTel said they have submitted a joint bid for the 2010 World Cup.

In a joint statement the two said that the bid offered football’s ruling body FIFA a higher value, but they neither revealed the total or whether FIFA had accepted the bid. The statement said that the joint bid would ensure “[World Cup soccer] would remain affordable to the broadest number of our customers,” although they also said that “the price offered to FIFA would sacrifice all World Cup margins for both SingTel and StarHub.”

The collaborative position of the two companies is a marked contrast to the recent rivalry over rights to English Premier League soccer. Rights are set to transfer from cable company StarHub to SingTel’s IPTV platform MioTV from July 2010. That provoked outcry from many football fans who may feel obliged to switch pay-TV provider in order to continue watching their favorite teams.

In Hong Kong, English soccer rights were recently won by iCable, when incumbent broadcaster PCCW’s Now TV said that prices had reached levels that were no longer economical.