Singtel secures temporary deal for Champions League broadcast in Singapore

The Uefa Champions League logo is seen before the draw ceremony for the 2016/2017 Champions League Cup soccer competition at Monaco’s Grimaldi Forum in Monaco August 25, 2016. (PHOTO: REUTERS)

UPDATED 3:30am 19 September 2018: New telecast times added.

In an 11th hour deal, Singtel secured an arrangement to screen five of the eight opening matches from the Uefa Champions League, which kicked off early on Wednesday (19 September) morning.

With barely 3.5 hours before the first two matches kicked off at 12.55am, the local telco giant posted on its social media pages details of the telecasts that were aired on its mio Sports channels.

Later on Wednesday, it announced live telecasts for five more Champions League matches scheduled to be played on Thursday (20 September) morning. They include Manchester United’s away tie against Swiss side BSC Young Boys, Manchester City’s home clash against France’s Lyon, and defending champions Real Madrid’s match-up against AS Roma.

However, this is only a temporary arrangement, as Singtel – which has been broadcasting the  Champions League since 2009 – has yet to reach an agreement with rights owner DAZN to secure broadcast rights for the entire 2018/19 tournament.

DAZN is a video streaming service owned by British-based sports media company Perform Group, which also owns the website Goal.com. Earlier this year, the company won the broadcast rights from Uefa for three consecutive Champions League seasons, including this year’s tournament.

Not the first time for last-minute deals

This is not the first time in which negotiations between rights owners of major sporting events and local broadcasters have dragged on and created uncertainty among viewers.

In 2012, Singtel managed to secure rights to the Champions League just hours before the first group-stage matches were played. And in 2016, Mediacorp struck a deal with broadcast rights holder Dentsu for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics only a day before the opening ceremony.

Even until Tuesday night, Singtel responded to fans’ queries on Twitter with this reply: “Singtel TV remains in discussion with Uefa Champions League & Europa League licensee DAZN for TV rights. We will advise as soon as we have updates.”

It had explained in a recent Facebook post that it had aired the past three Champions League seasons on the Eurosports channel, which had held the rights. Since DAZN has yet to confirm its broadcast plans, talks between Singtel and DAZN have so far been inconclusive.

Disgruntled fans

Despite the last-minute arrangement for live broadcast of the matches, fans remained disgruntled as they were kept in the dark and have had to make last-minute viewing arrangements.

“We paid $69.90 for subscription to the Singtel TV football channels, but we still have to wait until the last minute to find out whether we can watch live Champions League action. Singtel is being unfair to the customers,” said Liverpool fan Danny Yong, 44. The Reds’ clash with French side Paris Saint-Germain was broadcast here at 3am on Wednesday morning.

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