Nov 21, 2013

    Fans rage over BPL pricing

    FOOTBALL fans are up in arms that they have to pay more to get their Barclays Premier League (BPL) fix with SingTel.

    This month, many received a letter from SingTel informing them that they will be automatically moved to a pricier mio TV package after their existing pay-TV packages with BPL football broadcasts expire by the end of the month.

    The new bundle costs nearly $65 a month and has over 80 channels, including BPL content.

    Previously, SingTel offered BPL with other sports content for nearly $35.

    While news of the higher-priced bundle, called Gold Pack, was out in July, some fans are upset because their plans are now expiring and the impact of the changes loom closer.

    Others that voiced their displeasure on SingTel's Facebook page this week claimed that the telco's staff had told them several months ago that they did not have to pay extra to continue watching BPL, as long as they did not recontract and allowed their plans to roll over.

    SingTel currently holds the broadcast rights for BPL after winning them from StarHub in 2009.

    Even so, BPL content must now be made available to other pay-TV subscribers under the Media Development Authority's (MDA) cross-carriage measure, including those of rival StarHub.

    In April, MDA directed SingTel to share the BPL matches.

    The cross-carriage measure requires exclusive content acquired on or after March 12, 2010, to be made available to other pay-TV subscribers.

    MDA had found SingTel's BPL contract to have terms that have or are likely to have a similar effect as that of exclusive content.

    When contacted, a SingTel spokesman clarified yesterday that under the cross-carriage measure, it now offers BPL only under two price plans.

    One is for BPL content alone at $59.90 a month across mio TV and StarHub platforms.

    The second is for its Gold Packs at $64.90 or $69.90 a month on mio TV.

    "We stopped offering the old BPL subscription packs in April. Since July, we have been reaching out to customers - both out of contract and coming out of contract - to move them into the new packages," said the SingTel spokesman.

    She added that "to ensure that customers who are out of contract do not experience an interruption in their service, their current subscription will be automatically converted to one of the Gold Packs or the standalone BPL pack".

    Customers on existing contracts under SingTel's old BPL price plans are unaffected, as long as they have not expired.

    The SingTel spokesman said that response to its packs has been "positive".

    For advertising executive Jimmy Liew, 39, he is not sure if he wants to continue with his mio TV subscription to enjoy BPL after he transitions to the higher-priced bundle.

    While the new bundle offers over 80 channels, the dollars and cents do not work for him as his old plan, with far fewer channels, is much cheaper.

    He said: "I don't watch anything more than BPL and sports news on my current plan. I don't have time to watch others."