Satcaster paid $100 mil for exclu soccer rights

TOKYO — Money-losing satellite platform Sky Perfect Communications, which scored a coup by landing Japanese broadcasting rights to the 2002 World Cup soccer final, will broadcast the games free to woo new subscribers.

Satcaster, formerly known at SkyPerfecTV, will set up 10 channels dedicated to the 64 games that will be hosted by Japan and South Korea.

The World Cup is expected to be one of the most watched sporting events in Japanese history; the direct-to-home satcaster reportedly paid about ¥12 billion ($100 million) for the exclusive rights in the region.

New subscribers will have to pay a $23.50 joining fee and a small monthly fee. They must also buy hardware to receive the satcaster’s feeds. Sky Perfect Communications hopes that after buying dishes and decoder boxes, new subscribers will stick with the service.

The games will air May 31-June 30.

The satcaster has 2.5 million subscribers and faces intense competition. It posted its lowest monthly subscriber gain in February and said that the cost of attracting new subs continued to push it into the red; mid-term earnings stood at a net loss of $148.5 million for April-September last year.

Main shareholders are News Corp., trading house Itochu, Sony and network Fuji Television.

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