Many soccer fans are expecting a new Premier League season. After all, Manchester United is defending its title without the legendary Alex Ferguson, while new clubs in Hull City, Cardiff City and Crystal Palace are threatening to make an impact in England‘s top division. In addition, other top Premier League clubs in Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool hope to give Manchester United a run for their money. With that in mind, a new season of the Premier League gives clubs an opportunity to forget last year and improve on their placings, in hopes of surviving relegation and even compete in either the UEFA Champions League or the UEFA Europa League. However, Southeast Asian soccer fans will have a new broadcast partner this year.
After several years as broadcast partner, Fox Sports Asia (formerly ESPN) and Star Sports decided to bow out of Premier League coverage for this year and beyond. Instead the Dutch league known as Eredivisie will replace the Premier League on the said networks. It was then announced that MP & Silva, through its broadcast partner BeIN Sport, will acquire the Premier League broadcast rights in the Philippines for this season until the 2015-16 season, with 33 matches aired per season. Additional coverage will also be provided through digital media and other mobile platforms.
Fox Sports and Star Sports’ loss of the Premier League was unexpected. After all, the two networks have comprehensively covered the Premier League for many years and gave soccer fans an opportunity to connect with some of the league’s most popular clubs. However, a majority of the Philippine population were not soccer fans, and despite the emergence of the Philippine Azkals, soccer still lags behind boxing and basketball in terms of popularity. Worse, Premier League broadcast rights are expensive, and with mounting operational costs they cannot afford to carry more coverage. Thus they have to give up on the Premier League, instead replacing it with some unknown Dutch soccer stuff when in fact they should have taken either the German Bundesliga, the French Ligue 1 or the Italian Serie A to appease the appetite of soccer fans.
While BeIN Sport has acquired the rights to air the Premier League in the Philippines, the announcement of which channel and cable network will BeIN Sport be available remains to be seen. For now, many soccer fans craving for the Premier League will have to depend on online live streaming to appease their hunger for soccer action. The Premier League begins tomorrow, but without any television coverage in the Philippines to begin with.