Spiralling Fifa World Cup rights fees could spell end for Hong Kong football fans watching live on TV

June 29, 2018
Industry News
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Chan Kin-Wa
kinwa.chan@scmp.com

Industry insider says escalating cost of securing rights will make it extremely difficult for local broadcasters to provide service for Qatar tournament in four years’ time

Enjoying the World Cup live from Russia on your big-screen television? Well, treasure the moment because it might be the last time Hong Kong football fans will be able to legally watch the month-long extravaganza.

Hong Kong football fans are in danger of missing out on watching future live games as the escalating cost to secure the rights for the month-long Fifa tournament could prove well beyond what local broadcasters are willing to pay to gain a slice of the action.

Television rights for the tournament being played in Russia cost a whopping US$70 million (HK$546 million), which mainland broadcaster LeSports originally secured only to come up short after paying the first four instalments.

Now TV stepped in by paying the remaining costs after free-to-air local broadcasters TVB passed up the opportunity.

Costs are expected rise ahead of the next World Cup in Qatar in 2022, making it extremely difficult for any local broadcaster to pay for the rights.

Four years ago, TVB paid US$40 million to football’s global governing body Fifa, plus another US$20 million on production and other related costs.

“If the broadcasting fees keep skyrocketing, I don’t think any Hong Kong broadcasting media company would be willing to dish out big money to pay for TV rights for the Qatar World Cup in four years’ time,” said a World Cup broadcasting veteran speaking under condition of anonymity.

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