Fans upset by expected price hike to watch World Cup

No details yet, but football fans shocked and angry as analysts predict steep rise

Shock. Anger. Disappointment. Those were the reactions of Singapore football fans when told that the price for watching this year's World Cup is set to rise.

Analysts had told The Straits Times recently that Singapore fans can expect a sharp jump from what they paid to watch the 2014 tournament live.

Then, a one-time TV subscription fee for the month-long tournament was $112.

ST quoted Mr James Walton, Deloitte Singapore and South-east Asia sports business group leader, who said global rights deals for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups are "on average 90 per cent higher than the (previous) World Cup packages".

Although not all of this will be borne by consumers, the higher rights deals could still lead to a drastic increase in subscription fees.

Broadcasters in Singapore have yet to announce subscription details for the June 14-July 15 tournament in Russia.

In response to TNP's enquiry, broadcaster StarHub said: "As discussions concerning broadcast rights are commercially sensitive, it is not appropriate for us to comment on details."

Contacted, a Singtel spokesman said: "We have no updates at the moment."

Tan Li Heng, 19, was one of the disgruntled fans TNP spoke to when told of a likely spike in price.

"I feel angry and disappointed as the World Cup comes only once every four years. The increased price may lead to us not being able to watch it," said Tan, an England fan who is working part-time.

S. Siva, 53, a private tutor, echoed those sentiments.

He said: "I was shocked and utterly disappointed as I am a die-hard football fan."

Full-time national serviceman Colman Wong, 19, added: "Usually, a lot of people who don't follow football still watch (the World Cup) as a family, so I think making it so expensive reduces accessibility for everyone... especially as it's held every four years ."

There are also those like junior college student Shawn Yip, 18, who is the only football fan in the family.

Said the Germany supporter: "I'm a little disappointed because it would be even tougher to convince my parents to subscribe.

"I'm the only football fan in the family so they aren't that keen on subscribing."

The acceptable price range differed for many. While some were comfortable paying the rate for the 2014 World Cup, most felt that a fee of up to $70 was most reasonable.

Many also said that they would be seeking alternatives, such as pubs, fast-food joints or community centres (CCs) that offer free live-screening.

In 2014, 30 CCs screened all 64 matches live.

"I'd probably go to Tampines Hub since they may have free screenings," said university student Raymond Scott Lee, 22, an ardent fan of Germany.

Mohammad Nursyamiir Othman, a 19-year-old national serviceman, added: "I'd go to a fast-food restaurant and catch games with friends."

Elder Singaporeans such as Siva also noted: "Many retirees enjoy football... Because of the crazily increased prices, they may not be able to watch."

Other fans specified that they would watch mainly big games, such as those involving favourites and crucial knock-out matches. Hence, they will not be purchasing full subscriptions.

But there is still a minority galvanised by the spirit of the World Cup, with a few that TNP spoke to saying that they will still subscribe.

It remains to be seen how many will. Singtel reported four years ago that barely over 100,000 households signed up for its 2014 World Cup package, a 25-per-cent dip compared to the 2010 edition, although that could also be attributed to the less viewer-friendly hours.