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SBD Global/August 12, 2013/Media

StarHub Doubles Rebate To $600 In Attempt To Win Back Football Fan Subscribers

Singapore telecom StarHub has doubled its rebate to S$600 ($477) "in its latest bid to win back football fan subscribers, even as it prepares to make a loss through this move," according to Joyce Lim of the STRAITS TIMES. The rebate will be offered to all of the telecom's TV customers who choose to catch the EPL "cross-carried on its set-top box." It offers S$30 ($23.86) off every month for up to 20 months -- meaning those whose monthly bills are less than S$30 "will not have to pay StarHub a cent during this period." The separate payment of S$59.90 ($47.65) for EPL goes straight to SingTel, "since it holds the rights to the popular league on cable TV" in Singapore. On Tuesday, StarHub revealed that it has suffered a decline in pay-TV subscribers for 18 months "and it is counting on the next three seasons of the EPL to help bring them back" (STRAITS TIMES, 8/11). In Singapore, Loh Keng Fett wrote a cross-carriage rule that mandates a pay-TV provider to share exclusive content -- if there is a request from subscribers of a rival operator -- "was supposed to kick off a better cable-TV viewing experience for consumers." But recent events "have made football fans confused and upset." They "will now have to cough up a lot" to enjoy their EPL fix. This was after SingTel, which had acquired rights to EPL's '13-16 seasons, "was ordered to share its football booty with StarHub." The cross-carriage rule "aims to promote competition by not allowing pay-TV providers to compete for content via high bids and then provide it to their own subscribers exclusively." The rule also lets consumers use just one telecom set-top box "to access shared content." SingTel had tried to argue that its EPL deal was not exclusive, but the regulator did not "buy that argument." The telecom reacted to the order to share EPL by raising rates, "arguing that it could not subsidise its competitor's subscribers." But amid the "fancy brochures and touted savings" dangled by both telecoms in playing up their packages, the fact remains that the cost to watch EPL has ballooned -- compared to last season's basic S$34.90 ($27.76) deal (STRAITS TIMES, 8/11).
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