Tuesday, July 24, 2007

More Starhub Woes

Further signs of Starhub struggling to manage its overspending on acquiring the rights to broadast the English Primier League. ESPN Starsports (ESS), the sports channel that has been broadcasting premier league matches on Starhub's cable network, has failed to reach an agreement on fees this season. ESS obviously decided that it will not overpay for Starhub's mistake.

Analysts had earier predicted that bids for the rights to broadcast the EPL from ESS, Singtel and Starhub would top S$150m. However, Starhub shocked everyone when it won the competition with a whopping S$246m bid. Starhub has apparently been struggling since to try and recoup from its miscalculation. Much to the ire of its subscribers, it raised cable charges by $4 across the board, then hammered its sports channel customers by almost doubling rates from $15 to $25 a month. Starhub probably tried to do the same to the fees it charges ESS. Like many unhappy customers who reportedly cancelled their sports subscription subsequently, ESS chose not to bow to Starhub's demands. So now Starhub will either have to spend more money to broadcast the games on its own, or find someone else willing to cough up the money to buy the games off its shoulders. There are unconfirmed news of a Dubai group considering a deal.

In addition to the EPL fiasco, Starhub has also failed in its attempts to launch the I-mode network here and is still struggling to penetrate landed property households. Will we see Starhub CEO stepping down soon? Looking at things, a golden handshake for its CEO might be the best thing for Starhub going forward.

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