Sports

Singapore won't get Olympic 'live' telecasts

Local broadcaster secures deal for only delayed telecasts, daily highlights from rights holder Dentsu

If Joseph Schooling goes on to win an unprecedented swimming medal at next month's Rio Olympics, sports fans here will not be able to witness it "live" on television.

The New Paper understands that no deal has been struck by any of the broadcasters in Singapore to beam sports action "live" from Brazil from Aug 5-21.

Instead, free-to-air broadcaster Mediacorp has secured a deal with regional broadcast rights holders Dentsu for delayed telecasts, daily highlights and feed from the Olympic news channel for between 10 and 12 hours daily.

The deal is said to be worth about US$2 million ($2.71m).

Mediacorp's crew in Brazil will also produce content. The sum excludes other costs, which may go beyond the $1m mark.

TNP sent queries to Dentsu and Mediacorp yesterday, but did not get a response from either by press time.

In response to queries, a Sport Singapore spokesman said: "We understand the broadcasters are finalising their plans, and will be announcing the details soon."

In 2013, Dentsu won the 2016 Olympic broadcast rights for Singapore and 21 other Asian territories in an International Olympic Committee (IOC) tender, and have struck free-to-air and pay television deals in most of these territories.

Among Dentsu's key performance indicators from IOC are to make more money from Olympic broadcasts, as well as to increase the reach and broadcast hours in Asia, TNP understands.

NO DEAL

Singapore is understood to be among the few countries under Dentsu's umbrella not to strike a deal for "live" telecasts.

The region's free-to-air broadcast rights were previously held by the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, of which Singapore is a member, and TNP understands that Singapore paid about US$2m for free-to-air "live" television coverage of London 2012.

Then, Mediacorp showed the London Games on eight free-to-air channels, while pay TV provider Singtel aired more than 3,000 hours of "live" actions across 13 channels on its mio platform.

TNP understands that local broadcasters made a bid of around US$2m to IOC for the TV rights for Rio 2016, only to be told to go through Dentsu.

It is understood that the broadcasters baulked at the estimated US$6m price tag Dentsu offered for free-to-air "live" TV rights, fearing that it will set a precedent for even bigger price jumps for future Summer Olympics.

Last year, Dentsu won the Olympic broadcast rights for 22 Asian countries, including Singapore, from 2018 to 2024, covering the 2020 and 2024 Summer Olympics.

The rising costs of sports content, such as football's English Premiership and the cricket's Indian Premier League (IPL), have raised the ire of sports fans here recently.

HIGH COST

In April this year, cricket fans were livid that both Singtel and StarHub stopped showing IPL, citing "prohibitive" costs of acquiring content.

Asked if StarHub put in a bid for broadcasting rights, a spokesman said yesterday: "We have held discussions with the broadcast rights holder of the Rio 2016 Olympics but were unable to come to an agreement.

"However, we understand that coverage of the Games will be available on free-to-air television which can be viewed through our set-top boxes."

When contacted by TNP, a Singtel spokesman said there are "no updates".

The Straits Times previously reported that the 11-hour time difference between Singapore and Brazil means that most of the action will take place between 8pm and 7am (Singapore time), which may not be attractive to advertisers.

Indeed, The Bangkok Post reported last month that TV Pool, a network of five TV channels that obtained the Olympic telecast rights in Thailand, has filled only 20 per cent of its advertising air time schedule so far for the upcoming Olympic Games.

The report stated that TV Pool spent 450 million baht ($17.5m) to acquire the rights, an increase of "five to six times" the cost compared to London 2012.

While some fans said they would try to find ways to watch the Games online, one remained hopeful of a solution before the start of the Games.

Muhd Sofee Hadi wrote on Facebook: "(The lack of "live" broadcasts) makes sense since the timing (of the events) is like 6-11am, but there's still time for anything to change."

Some other Asian countries will have 'live' telecasts

Dentsu has exclusive gatekeeper broadcaster rights to the 2016 Olympic Games in 22 Asian countries - Afghanistan, Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, East Timor, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

Here, we look at some of the deals struck in these countries.

HONG KONG

TVB has acquired exclusive broadcast rights across all media platforms, including free television, pay television, internet and mobile, and will show more than 400 hours of Olympic content.

It reportedly paid Dentsu US$25m ($33.5m) in 2014 for the rights.

MALAYSIA

RTM will broadcast 500 hours on TV1, TV2, TVi and all mobile application platform.

Internet Protocol TV provider HyppTV will have eight live and interactive TV channels while pay TV provider Astro will also broadcast the Olympics live.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Free-to-air broadcaster EMTV has secured exclusive rights to show the Olympics.

THE PHILIPPINES

Free-to-air broadcaster Sports5 will show about 16 hours of action on TV5 and Aksyon TV, while pay TV provider Cignal will have two channels. PLDT and Smart will also be the country's official online and mobile broadcaster.

THAILAND

TV Pool, a network of five channels, have bought the broadcast rights for a reported 450 million baht ($17.5m), a third of which came from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC). However, there has been criticism in recent months on NBTC's funding, as TV Pool's contract with Dentsu does not allow it to share its Olympic content with the nation's 25 digital TV operators, a condition set out by NBTC for the public's benefit.

- LIM SAY HENG

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