ESPN, Cable TV and the English Premier League
March 24, 2004
The Sunday Morning Post reported that Cable TV has won the exclusive rights to show the English Premier League (EPL) in Hong Kong for the next three years. On the face of it, this means (as the SMP pointed out) the end of the intelligent pre-match coverage on ESPN and the return of hysterical fast-talking presenters in brightly coloured jackets. Or does it?
An open letter to Cable TV
I have read that Cable TV has won the exclusive rights to the EPL for the next few years, but hope that you will bear in mind the wishes of all expat (and many local) football fans. The coverage provided by ESPN and Star Sports is now excellent, with intelligent pre-match and post-match discussions involving former players and managers, and highlights and discussion programs during the week.
I assume that you paid so much for the rights in order to prevent your rivals such as Galaxy and Now Broadband TV from being able to show EPL games. I hope that you will not spoil this triumph by depriving Hong Kong viewers of the coverage from ESPN and Star Sports that rest of Asia will continue to be able to watch.
Perhaps you can agree a deal with ESPN whereby you continue to have exclusive rights to their channels. If not, perhaps you can offer Cable TV viewers a different version of ESPN and Star Sports with full EPL coverage, whilst anyone watching the channels on other services would miss out. Obviously you would be able to offer your own EPL coverage in Cantonese so that viewers have a choice.
In what is becoming a fiercely competitive market, Cable TV needs to have an edge, and exclusive EPL coverage give you that, but you will also be aware that viewers now have alternatives that may be significantly cheaper and so Cable TV also needs to offer a premium service. For most football fans, the EPL coverage from ESPN and Star Sports would constitute a very strong reason to subscribe. Its absence might constitute a compelling reason to cancel.
Update: Giles thinks this might be good news for rugby fans. In truth, it's anyone's guess what might happen to ESPN and Star Sports.
The history is something like this. For a long time, Star Sports was available free of charge by satellite and covered the Five Nations/Six Nations, Formula One and other sports. When the EPL deal was signed, the channel was picked up by Cable TV and for a few months they had two different services (with EPL soccer on Cable, without on satellite) before they terminated the satellite version. ESPN had the rights to the Monday night EPL games (early Tuesday morning here) up until 1998 or thereabouts, and the channel was on Cable TV. Then when Cable TV won the exclusive rights, ESPN ceased to be available in Hong Kong, returning only when they won the EPL rights (in 2001?).
One question is whether Cable TV will continue to carry ESPN and Star Sports, and another is what they will do in Hong Kong when they are showing EPL games in the rest of Asia. It may not be feasible to offer a totally different schedule just for Hong Kong, so you could find that the Six Nations matches still get shown with a delay! Or you might even find that Star Sports is only available through Galaxy or Now Broadband or not at all. Anything is possible!
hurrah - hopefully this means more live rugby on ESPN / StarSports so we can all be happy (assuming Cable TV don't mess up the footy as you say).
Posted by: giles | March 24, 2004 at 06:11 PM
Sadly, CableTV doesn't carry ESPN/Star sports anymore starting on 17-Aug. Now Broadband TV signed a deal with them for exclusive coverage.
I felt being betrayed by CableTV, having purchased the decoder for 990hkd about 9 months ago with the anticipation of watching ESPN on Cable in the near future. Clearly it's no longer the case now.
I am gonna wait and see what Now's version of ESPN would be like. I'll subscribe depending on:
a)They are gonna enhance the cantonese coverage of ESPN/Star sports, I called them and the guy told me there's no Nicam. Would be interesting to see what Champ league would be like. Hope they have nicam for people who want/need to get the English commentary
b) the availability of EPL highlights and Football focus. If they have it as we do now, I am gonna instantly unsusbcribe the Cable (since I am not contracted)
Posted by: Denis | July 15, 2004 at 08:25 PM
I'm no football fanatic, although my Dad and brother are..and are quite disappointed with the whole Cable / football / NOW Broadband TV ordeal. I can understand why.
That was the main reason for them getting cable in the first place.
Hong Kong TV is a joke, and has been for several years.
Those living in the UK with Cable / Sky satellite (and BBC programming for that matter) that talk about how their TV is nothing but garbage should come to Hong Kong and realise what a major OVERSTATEMENT that is.
Posted by: Paul Marriott | July 16, 2004 at 05:59 PM
Yeah this sucks! Personally I'm not hugely interested in the Soccer and subscribe to I-Cable TV largely because of Rugby and some other international sports, e.g. British Open Golf which was carried by ESPN recently.
Does anyone know the contractual situation with I-cable? Surely they are in breach of their contract with folks who had previously paid up under the condition that they would get ESPN and Star Sports?
I will probably switch to Netvigator.....
Posted by: cheesebeast | July 21, 2004 at 10:37 PM
If you had signed a 12-month contract with i-Cable I suppose you might have grounds for cancelling it, but legally they are probably fairly safe.
I see that this affects other channels such as National Geographic and Star Movies, so Now Broadband have actually got quite a boost.
Posted by: Chris | July 27, 2004 at 10:40 PM
Please start showing premiership games on espn or espn2 in the united states. There are many premiership fans in the united states.
Posted by: Mustafa | July 28, 2004 at 02:58 AM
Please show a more complete live EPL coverage here in the philippines. It's frustrating to know that most of the time, when it's kick off time, ESPN-Star airs re-runs of NBA and Pool instead of broadcasting live EPL matches.
Posted by: Chris | April 17, 2005 at 10:21 PM
I would love it if the english premier league started showing here in USA and to tell you the truth,many other fans would like it too!!! Show it on espn or espn2
Posted by: Pushkin | May 19, 2005 at 05:20 AM
well guys i have had enough of the united states to last me a lifetime...i learnt the biggest lesson of my life here..that is..there is no place like home! Soon i will be watching the footie whilst cooking roast beef and yorkshire puds..as it should be! :o) best of luck to all of you who are a long way from home!!
Posted by: chrissy | October 24, 2006 at 02:28 AM