Do you remember a time when we could watch international tournaments like the World Cup and European Championships on free-to-air television?
That was about 30 years ago. What that meant at that time was that almost everyone in the country had access to top-quality football without having to spend a cent more.
In Singapore, two telecommunication companies provide cable/fibre television services – StarHub and Singtel. I subscribe to Singtel TV, and each month, I pay S$82.05 (RM255.46).
For the upcoming Euro 2020, those in Singapore can subscribe to a one-off fee of S$93, or watch it for free if we renewed our contract for two years. I chose the latter.
Over the years, the cost of watching similar ‘live’ tournaments have progressively increased to an astronomical level.
Singapore is the costliest country in this region to watch such tournaments. I understand that television rights for these tournaments have increased over the years, but while in other countries in this region, one can watch matches at a decent fee, Singaporeans have to pay through our noses to watch the World Cup and the European Championships once every two years.
International tournaments aside, we have to pay an arm and a leg to watch our favourite European leagues, season after season.
We know all about the television rights that have made the English Premier League the richest league in the world, but still, it costs more to watch it in Singapore than anywhere else in the region.
The rights for the Premier League are held by Singtel, but due to a cross-carriage agreement, StarHub subscribers can watch the league as well, if they subscribe to it via Singtel.
To watch the La Liga and Ligue 1, Singaporeans would need to pay an additional fee of S$5.90 per month.
You can watch the English Premier League, Serie A on both channels. The Bundesliga and Coppa Italia are only available on StarHub. In my case, I am a Singtel subscriber and a fan of Serie A.
If I plan to watch Coppa Italia, I will need to subscribe to a second cable television service, which will mean an additional monthly cost of at least S$50.
I did consider subscribing to StarHub but the company made a decision to discontinue its recorded television services. I’m not the only one who watches television at home, and some family members do record their shows, so the decision by StarHub made it unworkable.
I miss the days when I could watch these matches for free on Malaysian television. To combat the rising costs, many football fans in Singapore have resorted to android boxes where they can watch matches from anywhere in the world for an annual fee of S$100. The drawback is that you have to rely on the strength of your WiFi signal and might not get the best of experiences as a result.
Football is getting costly to watch for those living in Singapore. If you can’t afford it, there is no chance of you watching European leagues and international tournaments through conventional means.
It is a sport that is loved by all, regardless of gender, nationality, age, race, religion and economic standing, but increasingly, those in the lower income bracket are getting priced out of watching.
I hope that in the long-term, a Netflix-subscription styled platform becomes available in Singapore where we can watch any match in the world for a small fee.
This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.