Category Archives: Deals

Singapore Cross Carriage Act Update

The Media Development Authority (MDA) introduced a cross-carriage measure back in 2010, mandating that screening rights for all exclusive television content deals be made available to the customers of competitive Pay TV operators.

The act originated from a bidding war between StarHub and SingTel to obtain broadcasting rights for the 2010-2013 English Premier League football season. SingTel Mio TV won contract by paying a heavy price, which would eventually be transferred down to the consumer. In exchange, obtaining this contract helped drive their Mio TV subscriber base nearly 400%, from 117,000 in 2009 to just over 400,000 subscribers in 2013.


According to Adeel Najam of Frost & Sullivan, SingTel lost money by acquiring EPL broadcast rights. Specifically, it is estimated that they paid $350m to acquire EPL rights, but only brought in $200m throughout the duration of the EPL contract.

  • SingTel’s mio TV service would gain 360,000 subscribers by 2013 and is expected to have a pay TV market share of 46% by that time.
  • Of the 231,000 subscriber additions in 2010 alone, 90,000 will be churned from Starhub (these subscribers will switch from Starhub to SingTel) and 100,000 subscribers will take up mio TV service for sports in addition to keeping their Starhub subscriptions in 2010.
  • The sports content acquisition will enable SingTel to double its ARPU by 2013. SingTel’s mio TV ARPU is expected to reach $45 by 2013 and this will be very close to the current level of Starhub’s pay TV ARPU.
  • Starhub which will now face stiffer competition from SingTel and experience a decline of 68,000 pay TV subscribers in 2010.
  • The key risk for SingTel is that this costly investment will make it more challenging for it to turn its pay TV business profitable. On a conservative basis, with an ARPU of $28 for the EPL content, SingTel will be able to accumulate $164 million in the three years from mio TV. Adding revenues from internet and mobile TV platforms this can reach around $200 million. This is 43% below the estimated bid price of $350 million by SingTel for the EPL content rights. Other risks SingTel might face are consumer backlash and regulatory scrutiny.

The Media Development Authority (MDA)’s cross carriage measure enacted on 12 March 2010, was to address the concerns over the nature of competition in the Singapore pay TV market, to put an end to the fierce bidding frenzy for exclusive content, which only served to drive prices up for both Singaporean TV operators and the public.

In theory, the measure would work as follows… StarHub subscribers who want to watch EPL, can simply pay an additional fee for access to this content. StarHub then pays that additional fee to SingTel, who then provides the channel content back to StarHub for delivery back to their customers. The reality of this measure however has proven different.

Last year, StarHub won a contract for the UEFA Euro 2012 matches. The Cross Carriage measure kicked in for the first time, and SingTel Mio customers were given access to theses live matches on their Mio TV box, so far, so good. The act seemed to be working.

However, soon after, SingTel obtained the exclusive contract for the 2013-2016 season EPL football broadcast rights. StarHub customers tried to pay for access to this content but SingTel refused to provide it, claiming that the contract was non-exclusive. The Straights times explains as follows:

This is the first time the cross-carriage rule is being challenged – ironically by SingTel, which benefited from the rule during the screening of UEFA Euro 2012.

SingTel took the auction for EPL broadcast rights in Singapore off the table last November, forcing StarHub to sit on the bench, while the first round of bidding kicked off all around Asia.

It is unusual not to have an auction. Still, SingTel said its deal with the Football Association Premier League (FAPL) was “non-exclusive”. This meant two things: StarHub was free to negotiate its own EPL screening rights at some point; and the cross-carriage law – which applies only to exclusive deals – could not kick in to force SingTel to share the content with StarHub.

SingTel tried several times to not provide EPL game content, arguing first that the deal wasn’t exclusive. After that argument fell through, they took the position that it is not reasonable to require them to subsidize a competitors subscribers. Straights Times writer Loh Keng Fatt explains:

SingTel had tried to argue that its EPL deal wasn’t exclusive, but the regulator didn’t buy that argument. The telco reacted to the order to share EPL by raising rates, arguing that it could not subsidise its competitor’s subscribers.

The upshot? SingTel’s existing mio TV subscribers will still pay the old rates. But new subscribers and those recontracting will pay from $64.90 a month for a Gold Pack, which includes movies and entertainment. This is substantially more than the $34.90 charged previously for a sports bundle, including EPL.

StarHub viewers will pay $59.90 a month to watch EPL. StarHub has also rolled out packages to entice those in the rival camp as well as encourage its subscribers to stay with it to watch EPL and other content.

But amid the fancy brochures and touted savings dangled by both telcos in playing up their packages, the fact remains that the cost to watch EPL has ballooned – compared to last season’s basic $34.90 deal.

Worst off are probably mio TV subscribers on the old $34.90 basic football deal.

It is no wonder then that the 400,000-plus mio TV subscribers – many of whom probably signed up for the football – may now wonder if the cross-carriage rule, though well-intentioned, has scored an own goal instead.

The current status of cross carriage measure in Singapore can be found at this Straights Times article. Another perspective can be found here. And the Hardware Zone has a good discussion thread about this issue.

Maybe the cross carriage measure will eventually function as it was designed, to keep costs down. Time will tell. But in it’s first iteration, it has essentially served to doubled the price of Pay TV sports packages in Singapore.

Bhaalu Raises S$10 Million

Right Brain Interface nv, the software company behind bhaalu, a new and intuitive TV viewing experience, is working to develop and commercialize a unique video recorder product. A team of top Flemmish investors in Belgium consisting of LRM, PMV, Capricorn Venture Partners, Diepensteyn and Pamica, have joined together to invest EUR 6 million ($7.9m USD / S$10m SGD) of new round capital into Right Brain Interface nv.

The capital increase of EUR 6 million was subscribed by LRM (the Limburg Investment Company) through its ARKIV daughter KMOFIN 2, PMV (PMV), the Capricorn ICT Arkiv, managed by Capricorn Venture Partners (Leuven venture capital provider), Diepensteyn (the holding the family shareholders of Palm Breweries) and Pamica (the investment vehicle of Michel Akkermans, ex FICS and current Clear2Pay CEO and chairman). Other participants of this new round of funding consist of employees, friends and family.


Photo: Mr. Bart Van Coppenolle and Mr. Philip Vandormael

Both RBI (Right Brain Interface) founders, Mr. Bart Van Coppenolle and Mr. Philip Vandormael, also took part in this latest round of investment funding. The two are former executives of Metris and current executive management of Holy Brain, the investment vehicle for RBI.

“After welcoming 500 private beta testers and consumer electronics customers last month, I am very pleased with the amount of support we have received from fellow entrepreneurs and the innovation-loving Flemish society.” – Bart Van Coppenolle, CEO, Right Brain Interface

“The innovative business model of Right Brain Interface’s bhaalu is consumer-centric, but also provides opportunities for the established players in the media landscape with robust IP portfolios. This factor was crucial for our investment. We also appreciate the user-friendly interface of bhaalu ,providing its customers an intuitive way to navigate through a large amount of video data.” – Katrin Geyskens, ICT partner Capricorn Venture Partners

“It is our mission to invest in innovative consumer driven projects with international potential. Our enterprising abilities at Diepensteyn allowed us to enthusiastically participate in this round of financing. The baahlu project from Right Brain is promising, as it guides the consumer in their desire to easily discover new things while immersing them into an experience their personal interests.” – Jan Toye, Managing Director Diepensteyn

Further development & commercialization of bhaalu

The capital raised will be invested in product development and commercialization of Right Brain Interface’s first product, bhaalu. Bhaalu is a unique video recorder that allows viewers to experience the full extent of their scheduled TV programs by recording and being able to watch all of the TV channels they lawfully have access to view. Consumers will be able to choose where and when they want to watch their recorded programs, whether they wish to view on their home television, on a laptop computer or mobile device. Bhaalu consists of an intuitive TV interface, which makes it easy to find TV content, creating a personal TV universe for consumers.

To test drive or purchase a box bhaalu, you can simply register on the website at for Belgiu and for the Netherlands. Bhaalu will also soon be rolling out in Germany, New York, USA and Singapore where interested parties can participate in the pre-launch program.

Full Story Here.

CASBAA Adds 7 New Members

CasbaaThe Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA), the lobbying body for multichannel TV across the Asia-Pacific region, has added 7 corporate members, bringing the total membership to 130.  These new additions, including companies headquartered in places like Mexico (Grupo Televisa) and Germany (SmartCast), illustrate just how widespread and diverse the TV industry has become.  Also among the new additions was SpaceX, a California-based company that develops and launches rockets and is currently executing a US$1.6B (S$2B) contract with NASA.

The new member corporations will only add to CASBAA’s claim of over 445 million connections within the TV industry.  Every connection serves to raise the already high influence the association has throughout Asia, which CASBAA has been striving to do ever since its inception in 1991:

“… within a footprint spanning China to Australia and Japan to Pakistan, CASBAA works to be the authoritative voice for multichannel TV promoting even handed and market friendly regulation, IP protection and revenue growth for subscriptions and advertising.”

CASBAA also bolstered its Asia-based membership with Hong Kong law firm Haldanes, information services provider Media Partners Asia (MPA), and online Software as a Service (SaaS) platform Movideo (the largest of its kind in Asia).

With older members such as Sony Pictures, Disney and BBC (to name a few), CASBAA has already established itself within the content production community.  Its new members, however, represent the association’s ongoing desire to have lobbying power from every facet of the broadcasting community.

See full article at

Hulu Deal Falls Through

DirecTV-HuluRemember when we wrote that DirecTV was supposed to put pen to paper on a deal to acquire Hulu by the end of last month?  Big news: the deal, which would have given DirecTV the online presence it desperately needs, has been called off by Hulu owners 21st Century Fox, NBC Universal and Disney in a joint press release last Friday.  This is the second time Hulu’s co-owners have canceled acquisition proceedings for the company in two years, as they did the same thing in 2011 (although the group of owners then had different members).

In these most recent dealings, DirecTV is said to have offered just over US$1B (S$1.26B) for the OTT platform, which Hulu’s owners were supposedly prepared to accept.  However, they have obviously had second thoughts, and are now planning on infusing US$750 million (S$950 million) of their own funds in an effort to realize Hulu’s potential.  

Jim O’Neill thinks that said potential, and not necessarily an inadequate offer from DirecTV, was the driving force behind the decision to axe the deal:

“The easy answer, but not necessarily the correct answer, is that the price being offered just wasn’t enough…The right answer may be more that the triumvirate finally realized they had a plum in their hand.

[Hulu]‘s got cheap, fresh content coming in from its three owners, 4 million paid subscribers, and a lot of potential. It just hasn’t been realized by anyone other than its original CEO, Jason Kilar, who tried and tried again to tell his bosses what a great company he’d made for them.”

Hulu sits in a distant third place behind American OTT providers Netflix and Amazon, and this fresh supply of cash from its owners is certainly a step in the right direction.  However, Netflix dishes out more than US$2B (S$2.5B) per year to both buy and create new content, and Amazon reportedly spends about half that.  Furthermore, Hulu’s owners have made it clear that their new funding for the company will not be a yearly expenditure, so it seems that the company’s management will continue to be a step behind its competitors.

Referenced from and

Samsung Acquires Boxee

Boxee just sold to Samsung, and Janko Roettgers of the highly influential tech blog GigaOm asks, “…What does this mean for innovation in the space of internet-connected TVs? And who is going to fill the gap, now that Boxee is history?”. Well Mr. Janko, we have an answer for you, and the answer is… Bhaalu from Right Brain Interface!

Boxee sold for just under $30m, according to Haaretz, stating:

…for tens of millions of dollars, but for less than the $30 million that was originally invested in the company… Samsung will keep Boxee’s 40 employees on the payroll. Half of those workers are in Israel.

Boxee will soon cease to exist as a separate brand, now that the team will begin working on Samsung products. Furthermore, Boxee’s cloud DVR service will soon be discontinued, as the company announced yesterday on its website.boxeebox
Full Stories:
and here:

MediaCorp Toggle to use Tvinci OTT Platform

tvinci_hMediaCorp partners with Israel-based “Over-the-Top” (OTT) platform solution provider Tvinci to power Toggle, it’s newly released television platform. Tvinci says the following concerning the integration deal:

“Toggle provides rights protected content across iOS, Android and Windows devices using Tvinci’s multi-DRM capabilities: supporting Microsoft PlayReady and Google’s Widevine DRM simultaneously, depending on the device. Tvinci also allows Toggle users to rate, share and interact around TV shows, with Twitter and Facebook integrated into the service from the backend level to the interface.”

Tvinci CEO Ofer Shayo sheds more light by offering the following:

“The amount of content consumed via connected devices is increasing steadily every month. Leading operators and media companies such as MediaCorp understand the need to introduce an OTT offering in order to meet viewers’ need to access content on any of their devices, whilst also enjoying an immersive social experience.”

Philip Koh, MediaCorp’s Managing director over the convergency media division commented that:

“Today’s viewer is a sophisticated one, expecting to access their favourite content selections without fuss. Toggle offers this experience by allowing you to choose the content you want, plus where and how you want to consume it. This means Toggle’s content goes where you go, allowing you to switch from watching on your PC to your mobile phone when you leave home. And with the wide range of content offered, from different channels and movies to original productions, viewers will have a lot to keep them toggling.”

Full story at TheNextWeb and APB-News.

Boxee Acquisition Rumors

boxee-box-frontFor the past couple of weeks, people have expected struggling digital media service Boxee expected to announce that it has been acquired.  Boxee has made no secret of its desire to sell after failing to procure funding for its cloud DVR device after a months-long search; however, no such announcement has come from the company.  

The sale is rumored to be at a dirt-cheap price, as Boxee’s value has significantly declined in recent years.  The company tweeted last year that all-time sales of its set-top box had reached 200,000, which doesn’t begin to hold a candle to other set-top providers.

Jim O’Neill says Boxee simply doesn’t have the market share to compete with companies offering a similar product:

“While it has positioned itself as a potential answer for pay-TV providers looking to provide over-the-top options to their current offerings, there are more established and better-known brands already in that space, options like TiVo and Microsoft’s (MSFT) Xbox.

The OTT space, meanwhile, remains dominated by Roku—which so far has sold some 5 million units—and heavyweight Apple, which sold that many Apple TVs in the fourth quarter of 2012 alone.”

Perhaps the acquiring company can think of some better use for Boxee’s product or simply improve and build on what Boxee has now.  Either way, the company’s higher-ups will have a lot of work to do if they mean to bring Boxee into the spotlight.

DirecTV Lands Hulu Deal

directtv-huluAfter a fierce bidding war that included the likes of Yahoo!, AT&T, Verizon, and other major players, DirecTV seems to have come out on top.

A deal for the company to acquire online video provider Hulu is apparently in its final stages and is reported to be worth more than US$1B (SG$1.3B).  This comes after multiple offers two years ago from many of the same players, with the highest bid coming from Google at US$4B (SG$5.06B), which was ultimately rejected.  The new deal is expected to be finalized by the end of this month.

PandoDaily’s Michael Carney says DirecTV is the best fit for Hulu for two reasons:

“First, DirecTV is one of a select few companies with the resources and wherewithal to absorb Hulu and retain or increase its value. Second, Hulu fills a gaping hole in DirecTV’s offering in a way that it would be hard pressed to achieve by other means.”

The “gaping hole” Carney refers to is DirecTV’s lack of any substantial online presence.  With this new acquisition, the company will finally be able to hold a candle to its competitors in the online forum, and perhaps much more. Hulu Plus topped 3 million paid subscribers at the end of 2012 and raked in US$695M (SG$879M) in revenues during that year.  Depending on how DirecTV uses their new acquisition, it could be looking at huge profits in the coming years.

Referenced from PandoDaily.

Integrated Solution Lands Foxtel Deal

Pilat Media today announced that its IBMS solution has been selected for Foxtel Go, a portable app offered by leading Australian pay TV provider Foxtel. Foxtel Go is a portable companion for Foxtel subscribers, enabling them to choose from some of Australia’s most popular entertainment, documentaries, and drama channels and watch their favorite shows anywhere and anytime on both Wi-Fi and 3G.


StarHub Chooses Broadpeak for OTT

starhub-officeStarHub just confirmed a deal with French based BroadPeak to power it’s Over-the-top streaming video services. StarHub launched its TV Anywhere service in July 2012. Furthermore, StarHub also launched a managed IPTV service called ‘StarHub TV on Fibrea few months ago, which is being delivered over the Singapore’s Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (NGNBN).

Over-the-top (OTT) content consumption has gained considerable attraction in the past few years, driven by the introduction of new mobile devices and new OTT players.

Lin Shu Fen of StarHub explains:

”Broadpeak solutions now enable us to support HLS adaptive bitrate streaming, ensuring for the first time that we can deliver high-quality video in this popular format to our customers. Broadpeak CDN management and streaming server solutions dramatically improve the quality of our live television services in addition to providing us with the flexibility to support additional applications like VOD without having to make costly changes to our global architecture.”

Referenced from IPTV-News