US company International Management Group successfully bid for the Vietnam broadcast rights to the English Premier League football for the next three seasons for US$35 million, but may find itself priced out of the market.
Three years ago Italian company MP & Silva won the rights for the 2009-2012 seasons for $8 million and sold them to Vietnamese TV channels for $19.5 million.
Now, the New York-based IMG, which has also won the EPL rights in nine other Southeast Asian countries, must sell it for more than $35 million.
Most Vietnamese TV stations say it is too high for them, and they could well opt for other top-flight European leagues like the German Bundesliga, the Italian Serie A, the French Ligue 1, or the Spanish La Liga.
Trinh Long Vu, head of Vietnam Television's cable TV department, said: "The offer by MP & Silva three years ago [$19.5 million] was considered too high.
"It is not certain how much the offer from IMG will be this time, but it will be hard for Vietnamese TVs to buy it because we are now tightening our belt due to the economic situation."
Vietnam Television-owned cable channel VTC and private channel AVG have called for solidarity among Vietnamese channels. AVG has promised it would not negotiate with IMG on its own as a mark of solidarity and to ensure all Vietnamese channels benefit.
VTC representative Vu Quang Huy said: "During financially difficult times, Vietnamese channels should not separately meet and discuss with [IMG] to avoid raising the price too high."
Le Dinh Cuong, General Secretary of the Association of Vietnam Paid-TV Service Providers, also called for the joining hands.
On Sunday, IMG representative Steve Ayles came to Vietnam to meet Vietnamese television executives. But he did not bring up EPL rights, instead merely talked about the Australian Open tennis tournament.