Football ain’t cheap, you know

AirAsia sponsors RTM for World Cup

The much-anticipated event by RTM was supposed to be held at the Glasshouse in Seputeh, Kuala Lumpur.

Instead, RTM introduced its sponsors for the broadcasting of the 2018 World Cup at the Communications and Multimedia Ministry headquarters in Putrajaya yesterday.

It was a simple affair as Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo acknowledges he faces a “mammoth task” to transform RTM and boost viewership.

But it was a do Gobind can’t complain about.

Why?

Because it has finally sunk into the minds of many that football is an expensive affair.

Gobind yesterday admitted the RM18 million and RM12 million sponsorship deals by Maxis and AirAsia respectively were enough to cover the broadcasting rights for free-to-air. AirAsia will also be giving out 54 flight tickets as prizes for contests that will be carried out throughout the competition in Russia.

Maxis CEO Robert Nason (right) hands Gobind the mock cheque for the sponsorship of RM18 million.

“Yes, there will be other expenditure like this event but the amount is not substantial.”

“I’ll make the figures public, no problem,” Gobind quickly added.

The total cost to air the World Cup for 32 days will balloon to more than RM30 million but Gobind was unperturbed.

“We have other parties who are eager to sponsor as well. I can’t reveal anything at this point as we have yet to sign any agreement. The other potential sponsorship deals are not as big as Maxis or AirAsia but it’s still something.”

RTM will air 41 out of 64 matches (28 live, 13 delayed).

Insiders reveal there are attempts to get “big names” as analysts for the pre- and post-matches but it remains unclear if RTM will be able to secure their services and splurge on these individuals.

During the launch yesterday, actor Fahrin Ahmad was introduced as among the handful of hosts who will accompany viewers throughout the World Cup.

Fahrin (second from left) will host several World Cup programmes throughout the coming month.

But without any “star” attraction, Gobind’s attempt to showcase a refreshed RTM may take a backseat. Then again, most fans would only be interested in the matches and nothing else.

While many will be able to forgive RTM for any possible shortcomings, Telekom Malaysia is trying hard to tackle disgruntled football fans.

Unifi TV notified its customers on June 11 that World Cup matches aired on TV1 and TV2 will not be shown on its platform due to broadcasting rights.

RTM is free-to-air while Unifi TV, an IPTV, charges consumers for its services.

Astro, the official broadcaster for pay TV in Malaysia, will air all 64 matches live.

Unifi TV had in a tweet explained it will replace the broadcasting of matches with “various selections of top-rated entertainment programmes from RTM”.

Some pointed out that the government-owned RTM is forking out money for the World Cup and not Unifi TV – a company that imposes a monthly fee for its services.

Many took Unifi TV to task on Twitter, wondering why do they pay their monthly subscription but are unable to catch the World Cup.

Lowyat.NET content editor Syefri Zulkefli had this to say:

Unifi TV could purchase the rights to air several matches from the rights holder M-League Marketing or forget about the World Cup and bank on the “Malaysians mudah lupa (forget easily)” syndrome to save them from this episode.

Gobind is right to say sports is a unifying agent. But football comes with a hefty price tag.

It is time fans and broadcasters spare a thought on the ridiculous cost involved to air the beautiful game.