The value of media rights for the Premier League, one of the world’s most widely watched tournaments, seems to have hit a ceiling in more key Southeast Asian markets.
The winning bid in Singapore – from Singtel, slightly ahead of main rival StarHub – came in slightly down, at ~US$20-30 million less than the previous bidding round three years ago.
Bidding in Malaysia, meanwhile, has been deferred in favor of direct negotiations with the main contenders, thought to be Astro and BeIn Sports, reflecting weaker demand.
It also seems unlikely that the price tag will rise significantly in Indonesia, which is due to be settled early next year.
Rights for Thailand, decided last week, also dipped in value.
The results, in a climate of weaker local currencies, coincide with changes the Premier League has implemented to its sales strategy to boost its returns, examined in detail here.
Vietnam is an exception in Southeast Asia however, where sports agency MP & Silva paid a premium on the previous cycle for the next three seasons.
Prices are also arguably already high from previous rounds in markets such as Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, given the scope to extract more revenue over the next cycle.
The Premier League has also continued to enjoy gains outside Southeast Asia with a spike in Japan this week, following price rises in Hong Kong and Australia.
Rights for both Japan and Korea have also been secured by MP & Silva.
In Singapore meanwhile, retaining the Premier League will help Singtel keep a robust set of sports properties intact, even though games must be made available to StarHub subscribers under local cross-carriage regulations.
Having secured the rights at what remains a relatively high price, Singtel's next challenge could be generating more mobile and OTT revenue from the games, reflecting similar moves made by Sky in the UK.
Given local regulations and the maturity of Singapore’s pay-TV industry, the value of the rights might even have dipped lower.
In Singapore, pay-TV subs for linear sports seem to be maxed out, at 30-35% of the base for Singtel and ~50% for StarHub, according to Media Partners Asia (MPA).
Singtel’s pay-TV service, Singtel TV, has been doing well under its current custodians, Yuen Kuan Moon and Goh Seow Eng, who have moved the business close to breakeven on the back of a strong portfolio of sports and entertainment.
At end-September, Singtel TV had amassed 423,000 subs, with Arpu at ~S$40 (~US$30), compared with 542,000 cable subs for StarHub, with video Arpu at ~S$50 (~US$38).
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