Historic content-sharing move by TM and Astro is good so long as consumers are not charged more


YESTERDAY was historic for the country’s broadcasting and telecommunications industries as two giants – Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd and Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) – came together to share content to reach a wider market.

Powerhouse television content provider Astro, whether arm-twisted or in a bid to brace itself for stiffer competition, has agreed to sell content, mainly of the sporting kind including some Barclays Premier League (BPL) matches, to its fibre space arch-rival TM after months of negotiations.

Little wonder then that TM boss Tan Sri Zamzamzairani Md Isa was grinning from ear-to-ear as he fielded questions from the media yesterday at the landmark collaboration ceremony on the partnership, which signals a shift in the way content would be bought and shared in the country for mass viewing.

He did not stop at that, even taking a swipe at Astro, saying that “regardless of weather conditions, you can watch the matches (on HyppTV)”, in reference to the rain fade issue that Astro faces.

The deal to share content comes on the heels of a policy statement issued by the former Communications and Multimedia Minister in April last year for popular content, especially big sporting events, to be made available to a larger audience.

The sharing concept is prevalent in Indonesia and Singapore, and if Malaysia wants to bridge the gap in popular content as well, then it needs to promote further this concept of sharing.

Players need to compete where they should and collaborate where they can.

For the past 17 years, Astro has been beaming BPL matches and other world sporting events to its viewers’ living rooms.

Although TM has some sporting content in its offering, it doesn’t come close to the popularity and demand for the BPL.

This collaboration would surely give it a lift.

Under the agreement, TM would have 60% access to the 380 BPL matches between 20 teams besides some Njoi content and others.

TM, as a major sponsor of local sporting events, and Astro, with 14 channels dedicated to sports, can work together to further promote sports in the country.

On the possibility of both parties putting in joint-bids for large sporting events in the future, both bosses downplayed the prospect.

Both companies are going to make money from this new sharing arrangement, but Astro is also in heads-on competition with TM on the Internet Protocol television or IPTV front, riding on TM’s high-speed fibre to offer IPTV services.

By selling content to TM, the broadcaster is smart in ensuring TM does not have better content than what it can offer but similar content, all in the interest of protecting market share.

While trying to push hot and popular content, broadcasters should be mindful not to pass on too much of the cost to the consumers, because in this day and age, they are able to access a lot of content online too.

And as far as the players are concerned, it is better to win some than not at all.

l Business editor B K Sidhu is still hoping for a dedicated Punjabi channel.

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