With the exhilarating English Premier League and UEFA Champions League season over, the biggest football and sporting event is looming – the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Rio. Malaysians will be inexplicably glued to their TV sets, those with cable TV that is. For the rest… a trip to the local mamak, or experience a blackout, unfortunately.
When we were invited for a media briefing by TM a couple of days ago regarding HyppTV – their IPTV service, the first thing to come to mind was The World Cup. Sure enough, the briefing did involve the biggest football event of the year, just not the way we expected the announcement to pan out.
Jeremy Kung, TM Executive Vice President, New Media was there to brief the media and answer questions regarding the announcement.
In a nutshell, exclusive broadcasting rights for the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2014 were awarded to Astro and this covers all 64 matches including media rights to TV, mobile and internet. Through an arrangement with Astro, national broadcast company RTM has secured terrestrial broadcast rights for 35 selected matches from a combination of live and delayed telecasts. The sum paid for the rights is unknown but it is rumoured to be in the millions. Astro have held exclusive rights to the World Cup since 2006.
With the rights exclusively owned by the Pay TV provider Astro, TM is bounded by the rights including the 35 matches to be aired on Free-to-Air channel, RTM.
Surprisingly, not even the likes of monolith Media Prima has broadcast rights to the sporting event.
As a result, World Cup matches aired over RTM’s FTA channels will be blacked out when watched over at HyppTV.
According to TM, they were asked to pay an exorbitant amount for the rights to content available on FTA channels.
Free-to-Air that’s not free
The main argument is this. If a program is available on FTA channels, shouldn’t that same content that’s already freely available via RTM’s FTA channel, be free too? Apparently not.
Call it a monopoly, call it a business advantage. The loser here, ultimately, is the general consumer.
Case in point the recent Thomas Cup finals. If the Government hadn’t stepped in, via Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin (thanks KJ), the millions of Malaysians sans Pay TV would not have been able to watch our local heroes battle for the cup. In a last minute nationalistic gesture, rights were released to RTM for general viewing.
TM has said on record that it has made every effort to secure rights to the World Cup but to no avail. Perhaps it’s a case of bad timing as HyppTV did not exist when broadcasting rights were up for bidding in 2011.
Citing that the blackout is an industry-related flaw that needs to be addressed by regulators, TM is adamant that it will not be paying rights for the World Cup 2014 or other sporting events that are broadcast via FTA channels that are aired on the HyppTV platform.
This has angered and disappointed some HyppTV Sports Pack subscribers. TM issued an official letter to all HyppTV subscribers explaining the situation.
“TM always has you, our valued customers, in mind and rest assured, we have done our level best and made every effort to make the most sought after content available to our HyppTV viewers, in line with our commitment to providing world-class content on our HyppTV platform. But despite these efforts using multiple approaches, we are unable to obtain the broadcasting rights for the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2014 as another Pay TV provider has secured exclusive rights for the content. Therefore, TM is bounded by the rights including the availability of the matches on Free-to-Air (FTA) channels i.e. RTM Channels,” the letter read.
“We remain firm with our belief that content broadcasted through FTA channels should be free and we are just as disappointed as you are.”
Appeasing subscribers: Freebies!
TM will offer free viewing of RTL CBS Extreme HD (Channel 617) for 3 months from 1 June to 31 August 2014, exclusive for HyppTV Sports Pack subscribers. Subscribers will get to enjoy the best action adventure, reality series and extreme sports such as Red Bull Cliptomaniacs, Red Bull Air Races, Fear Factor, NCIS: Los Angeles and Criss Angel BeLIEve. This is also vieable via the HyppTV Everywhere app.
Favourite local movies such as Selamat Pagi Cinta starring Fazura and Sharifah Armani and many more will be replacing World Cup matches and replays on RTM1 and RTM 2 everyday from 12 June till 13 July, as per World Cup matches scheduled.
Additionally, TM is giving subscribers a chance to fly to Rio with HyppTV Fly Away to Rio contest. Just answer two simple questions, complete a short slogan and stand a chance for an all-expense paid trip to Rio for two.
Image credit: Oce the Photojournalist