It is bidding season again but this year TV networks in Vietnam are no longer allowed to fight one another for exclusive rights to broadcast the coming seasons of the popular English Premier League.
The Ministry of Information and Communications has ordered the Vietnam Pay Television Association and its member networks to sit down and find a common ground to make sure they will not end up paying too much for the football matches from 2016-2019.
More than 10 years ago, EPL was broadcast live for free in Vietnam. But pay TV channels started a harsh competition, driving the package price from US$3.9 million in 2008-2010 to $38 million in 2013-2016.
Since 2010, K+ of VSTV, a joint venture between national broadcaster VTV and Canal Plus, has been the only channel with the broadcast rights.
“TV networks have not cooperated in bidding for the EPL broadcast rights,” said deputy information minister Truong Minh Tuan.
Sales agents have taken advantage of this lack of cooperation to drive up prices, eventually leading to high subscription fees for viewers in Vietnam, he said.
The exclusive broadcast rights also created an unhealthy market for new pay TV channels, he said.
Pham Viet Tien, deputy director of VTV, said the broadcaster will not compete for the broadcast rights this time. He expected it could cost up to $70 million for the 2016-2019 seasons.
In 2013, after VTV and some other networks made an agreement to not respond to US-based seller IMG's first offer, Canal seized the opportunity and won the rights.
It then handed the rights to VSTV, in which VTV has a 51 percent stake.