Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hong Kong 'goes ape' over NOW's EPL launch

Hong Kong's Now TV used a 'gorilla" motif to launch four sports channels and promote its exclusive rights to screen next season's English Premier League which it paid a record US$200 million for three seasons to snatch from competitor i-Cable Communication. PCCW executive director Alex Arena said it could "rightly claim to be taking over the leadership of the pay television industry" and boasted Now was the Hong Kong home of all the world's big football competitions. He said the company had built its brand successfully without the EPL but had bid for the league because of demand from subscribers. "The English Premiership was not available to us and we had to do our best without it but people liked what we were doing with the Champions League and they wanted us to have the Premiership and we want to take coverage to the next level," he said.

Vivek Couto, director of Media Partners Asia, told Barclay Crawford of the South China Morning Post that Now could be paying too much for the EPL rights and said it would need a three-part strategy of more subscribers paying higher fees and greater advertising revenue to justify the "ridiculous" money it paid for the English league. "The fees people are willing to pay are a big part of it," he said.

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