EPL rights again to Astro

  • Business
  • Friday, 05 Feb 2016

PETALING JAYA: Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd has won the tender for the broadcast rights to the English Premier League (EPL) in Malaysia for three new seasons, beating new contender BeIN Media.

Although the win was anticipated by market watchers, analysts were positive on it despite the hefty price tag Astro would be forking out for the broadcasting rights.

While it is not known how much the broadcasting rights would be, it had been reported that Astro paid close to RM1bil for its existing rights (from season 2013 to 2016).

This is said to be 25% to 30% higher than the rights of the previous three seasons.

Astro said in a statement that it had secured the EPL broadcasting rights for the next three seasons from 2016/2017 to 2018/2019.

“Astro has strengthened its position as the home of sports and the unrivalled choice for sports fans by winning the rights to all Premier League matches for the seasons from 2016/2017 to 2018/2019,” said chief operating officer Henry Tan (pic).

The EPL is one of Astro’s key sports contents. While some had felt that Astro might start to feel the heat with the entrance of Internet streaming providers like Netflix and iflix, the biggest advantage it has over them is its live events and sports content.

Astro, the country’s largest pay-TV provider, has been the only broadcaster of the event for the Malaysian market since 1997.

At least half of Astro’s 4.2 million subscribers sign up for its sports package.

It was said that Astro faced some serious competition for the broadcasting rights with Middle Eastern-based BeIN, which has been aggressively investing in broadcasting rights of the EPL in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.

According to analysts, Astro’s management has guided that content costs would go up to RM1.9bil for the financial year ending Jan 31, 2017. This is to reflect the forex exposure impact, double sporting events and other additional content costs.

“We expect that this amount should already include the broadcasting rights for the EPL,” said an analyst.

This amount is higher than the estimated RM1.6bil it would have spent on content in the previous financial year.

This could affect its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation margins for the next two to three years, which in turn could affect the company’s dividend payout in the near term, analysts said.

Following news of the win of the broadcasting rights, shares in Astro rose as high as RM2.67 before closing the day three sen or 1.15% up to RM2.65, with 2.9 million shares changing hands.

All 380 Premier League matches every season will be available live on Astro TV in full HD and in all mobile devices via Astro on the Go.

Astro will also show other live sporting events this year, including UEFA Euro 2016, Rio Olympics 2016 and the Thomas & Uber Cup 2016.

Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore said the popularity of the EPL in Malaysia continued to grow.

Separately, Barclays, which has been the Premier League’s title sponsor since 2001, had announced that it would not renew its £40mil-a-year deal when its current agreement expires at the end of the 2015/2016 season.

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