Three years ago, PCCW’s Now TV put in a knockout bid and won the Hong Kong rights to the English Premier League without Cable TV being able to make a counter-bid. This time round, Cable TV were more prepared, and PCCW dropped out of the auction, saying that they declined to pay over the odds - because they would have to pass on the costs to their customers.
This is, of course, true, as I pointed out some time back, but PCCW didn’t seem so concerned three years ago when they they paid close to US$200m, and then charged customers an extra HK$150 per month for their EPL coverage. Without it, they have to reduce prices again, but the new price is HK$148 per month for Now Sports, ESPN, Star Sports and Eurosport, significantly more than the old price for Star/ESPN. Certainly they do have more than just the EPL - Spanish football being the latest addition – and they have an introductory offer of HK$98 and no-one actually pays the full price they advertise. In a rare concession, they even say that customers who have existing contracts will get some form of credit.
Maybe it’s all been worthwhile for PCCW because it has undoubtedly gained them subscribers, many of whom will keep the boxes and at least some of the channels (in theory you can subscribe to one single channel, but of course they have better deals if you take more).
We don’'t yet know what type of service Cable TV will offer. There was a lot of uninformed speculation (some of it here) about what would be available from PCCW, and it turned out to be about as good as one could have wished (every single games live, some in HD, and some available on-demand), but more expensive.
Cable TV are hinting at price increases, but nothing has been announced. Last time round the EPL coverage was included in their basic package, but since then they have started offering different combinations of channels and it seems highly likely that there will be a premium cable sports package (based around the EPL and the Champions League). They do do now have an HD service, but I don’t think they have any video-on-demand facility (if they did, it would have to be provided through the converter box).