SINGAPORE: Fans to pay more for cravings, cry foul

Fans of European and English football consider watching games outside their homes rather than pay the newly-required SingTel mio TV service

The Straits Times
Friday, March 21, 2008

By Leonard Lim & Wang Meng Meng 

Local football fans were up in arms yesterday at the prospect of having to pay more for SingTel's mio TV service so they can watch Champions League and Uefa Cup matches from August next year.

Among the 12 fans polled by The Straits Times, only one said he would subscribe to the new service for his football cravings.

The rest complained that their pockets would be hurt further if they wanted to catch the games.

Said Chelsea fan Allan Chan, 62: 'This is crazy, it means I must have two different set-top boxes to watch European and English Premier League games.'

Champions League matches are currently shown on ESPN STARSports Channels 23 and 24.

English Premier League (EPL) games are screened on StarHub's Channels 21, 22 and 27.

Subscription to these channels under StarHub's Sports Group currently costs $26.75 monthly with GST.

In future, fans have to subscribe to mio TV to watch Champions League and Uefa Cup matches.

SingTel regulations state that subscribers must spend at least $15 monthly on mio channels. It is understood that prices for football offerings on mio TV have yet to be finalised.

But fans can expect to pay a separate $117 up front for installation charges and a phone modem, assuming they are existing SingTel telephone line subscribers.

Roland Seow, a vice-president of a bank, was 'disappointed' at the latest news.

'Consumers suffer in the name of football,' said the 52-year-old. 'It is meaningless to subscribe to an extra plan just for Champions League games.'

This was echoed by lawyer Caleb Kan, 26.

'The consumer is certainly not the winner now,' said the lifelong AC Milan supporter.

'We might have more choice in terms of on-demand football, but at a price.

'Perhaps it is time the government stepped in to regulate the screening of sports content.'

Many fans said they would rather watch the games outside their homes, or turn to 'live streaming' websites on the Internet.

Said Jason Nah, a personal trainer: 'That's it. I've had enough. Now, I'll just watch the game in a pub or a coffeeshop.'

The lone supporter was Manchester United fan Des Cunningham.

He said: 'As long as the Red Devils are playing, I'll pay to watch them.'