SingTel's Mio TV broadcast of BPL could end badly for advertisers

By Madhavi Tumkur on Aug 6, 2010 (3 hours ago) filed under Advertising, Singapore

SINGAPORE - The exclusive rights to Barclays Premier League will prove to be an acid test for SingTel’s Mio IPTV and could affect advertisers adversely.

BPL, the hottest event in Singapore

SingTel’s Mio clinched exclusive rights to Barclays Premier League (BPL) last October from incumbent StarHub and will hold it until 2013. As a result, its 155,000 customers by the end of 2009, increased to 200,000.

However in March, a blackout cost SingTel to lose 10,000 viewers and a SG$ 50,000 fine by MDA. Last month viewers complained of a poor signal which eventually went completely blank causing much furore among its viewers. As the operator scrambled to upgrade its technology across 1.2 million households, its capacity issues led some to question Mio’s resilience to the upcoming BPL.

With huge sums of money at stake, the question arises: what does this really mean for advertisers? What contingency plans must they prepare for? What happens to them if such an outage occurs?

Rajeev Bala, MD at Media Contacts for Southeast Asia and India says, “There have been many issues with SingTel’s bandwidth. Given the exclusive rights that SingTel has bid for, the operator must deliver on its promise, otherwise marketers will be unpleasantly jerked out of their behaviour."

He went on to add, “Brands will need to get more sophisticated, or risk getting obsolete. Personally, I think brands will need to create their own distribution channels where they can embed live feeds to the matches, and plug the social graph inside these feeds."

Echoing Bala’s belief, Arun Kumar, head of digital at Media Brands, says: “No brand should have just a single strategy. Games such as BPL offer an experience and viewers watch it while they enjoy the experience it offers. Agencies must therefore create space in digital space to sustain the conversation beyond just the viewing of the game.”

While SingTel has not offered a service guarantee on Mio, it has instead assured the viewers a ‘gold standard’, an equivalent of industry best practice. Some experts have also questioned if the operator is indeed ready with all its contingencies in place and feel that it must ‘get its act together’ without which it will face a huge backlash from the public.

“Audiences aren't lemmings," says Bala. "They will migrate to where they can see the action and most of that will be online, which by definition is more amorphous, nuanced and interesting, not neatly labelled and packages offered by the Television Rating Point (TRP) which could be bought by procurement divisions.”

"People at large companies who make a living buying TRPs by the kilograms at the cheapest available rate will need to reinvent themselves, and very soon," he concluded.
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