Friday, April 24, 2009

It's gonna cost you

Recently the press picked up on the impending English Premier League rights bidding war that’s about to kick-off around the region. It was timely given that I just got a hold of some figures from ESPN STAR Sports which tells me (a) EPL is still mind-numbingly popular, and (b) it’s not going to come cheap for both the broadcaster and in the end, the football fan as well.

ESS says the current season of the Premier League live matches and ancillary programming reached more male viewers 15+ than the combined reach of news, education and entertainment programmes between 15 August 2008 to 25 February 2009.

According to AGB NMR, over the same period, more than 63% of all cable viewers aged 15+ in Malaysia have already watched the BPL (Barclays Premier League) 2008/2009 matches and its ancillary programming.

The BPL match between Manchester United and Liverpool on March 14 hit a Top 3 spot^ over the March 1 - 15 period, achieving an average rating of 6.6% among male viewers 15+ on cable, with the highest audience share (among regional cable broadcasters) of 17.3% during television viewing primetime, only second to a local-language channel.

But it’s not just the matches that ESS is able to tap on. It produces close to 1,500 hours of original football content a year including Nokia Football Crazy, Football Focus, Goals, Football Forecast, First Edition and Football Extra.

And because ESS also has the rights for the UEFA Champions League FA Cup, the company’s senior director of marketing and corporate communications, Paras Sharma is confident they will retain the EPL rights for next three seasons (from July 2010 onwards).

Still, ESS has lost out before, back in 2007 in Singapore (although they still handle the ad sales for that market).

StarHub paid a reported $250 million for the Singapore rights which were also seen as a strategic attempt to ensure rival SingTel wouldn’t be able to add the Premier League to its IPTV mio-TV platform.

Closer to home, Malaysia's state-owned Telekom Malaysia recently went on the record to say it may challenge Astro and bid for the exclusive rights which will open for bidding in the second quarter of this year. TM is hoping to secure attractive content for its IPTV platform which launches at the end of 2009.

So while Singapore is sold as a standalone market with other markets a part of a cluster - who knows what will happen this time.

Whatever happens, you can bet it’s going to involve a lot of money and it’s going to cost the football fan.

“You can make corrections if the business isn’t going up but clearly it is,” Sharma said.

*During period 15 Aug 2008-25 Feb 2009 in Malaysia. Refers to CNN, MTV Asia and Discovery. Source: AGB NMR
^Source: AGB NMR, Top 100 Broadcasts on Cable TV channels in Malaysia for March

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sucked in

My daily consumption habits of news online brought me to an interesting story by a Singapore news portal which asked the question, how many people out there think that Singapore sucks?

The answer, according to the news portal, can be found in the number of members who belong to a Facebook group called ‘Singapore Sucks’ – which has 375 members at the time of writing. And was created by a Singaporean (so it has been reported).

Under Basic Info, the Facebook group says: “While Singapore has enjoyed stable economic growth for decades now, its people and culture have not progressed forward. Prolonged periods of tight government control on all aspects of life have created an atmosphere of workaholism because there is simply nothing else to do.”

“The purposes of this group are to raise awareness for people from everywhere in the world about the current state of Singapore and for members to vent their frustration.

And it goes on to say that “Singapore needs a liberal government... and for that to happen Singaporeans have to change and have to start asking for a change.”

The page goes on to list a number of “facts” which supposedly highlight Singapore’s backwardness in a number of areas and mentions everything from its rankings in the Reporters Without Borders’ Worldwide Press Freedom Index, to accusations the nation is supporting the Burmese military junta.

To be honest I am surprised the Facebook is group still active (it gained nearly 50 more members since the article in the news portal was published) especially now that mainstream media has turned its attention to it.

But what do you guys think? Will it get shutdown – does it deserve to be? And if the Group gets shutdown now does it not prove the point of its creator about Singapore’s media laws?

If something similar were to happen here with an anti-Malaysia Facebook group being discovered - what would the media’s reaction and government’s reaction to it be?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

But your Facebook status says so

It's always amusing when social networking sites provide the headliners for daily newspapers. Just yesterday, on April Fool's Day no less, the national newspapers were taken for a good-humoured ride by politician Teresa Kok.

Kok, who is Seputeh MP poked fun at the day's events when she posted a link to a news story which said: "Oh no, I am now national news!"

The joke started much earlier in the day at 9.41am when she set her Facebook status to read "Teresa Kok is Luvin' It although her marriage plans have as many combinations as a McDonald's menu."

The 45-year-old DAP stalwart - a member of the opposition coalition - was then subjected to a barrage of phone calls from journos who were waiting to get the dirt about her tying the knot.

It didn't help that there were a flood of congratulatory comments and questions left on her page.
In the end, The Star got the scoop before mid-day reporting that Kok said she is not getting married, clarifying her Facebook posting, adding that it "got the media buzzing".

At 12.06pm, Kok, who was reportedly at a state exco meeting (it's usually held on Wednesdays) in Shah Alam, then updated her status to read: "Teresa Kok's last status msg about 'marriage plans' was her April Fool's joke. Too many reporters are phoning her up for comments so she has to, reluctantly, reveal it's a joke today, instead of tomorrow".