PCCW chases b’cast soccer rights

Hong Kong telecom close to final agreement

HONG KONG — PCCW’s Now Broadband has set the stage for exclusive rights to broadcast English Premier League soccer in Hong Kong.

PCCW is entering into an exclusive negotiating window under a standstill agreement, according to an announcement Wednesday. Telecom hopes to finalize the agreement as soon as possible, which would give it the go-ahead to broadcast 380 EPL soccer matches on Now TV, as well as through its mobile 3G service.

“We recognize the EPL is one of the most prestigious football properties, with a very strong following from Hong Kong viewers,” said Alex Arena, exec director of PCCW. “With the multiple platforms that PCCW offers, and with Now TV’s unique interactive capability, we aim to increase the coverage of the 380 EPL matches via concurrent broadcasts of matches, giving customers unprecedented choices of their favorite matches.”

Now had more than 650,000 subscribers receiving 120-plus channels as of August. Its exclusive channels include HBO, Cinemax, Star Movies, Star Chinese Movies, Star World, ESPN and Star Sports.

Now has steadily been catching up to No. 1 Hong Kong Cable Television (Cable TV) with exclusive channels and competitive packages.

Cable TV recently acquired the PGA Tour exclusively. It will carry 48 PGA Tour events, plus events in the Champions Tour and the Nationwide Tour. The channel will begin airing Jan. 1.

The channel also will launch on the broadband platform i-CABLE.com, where programs will be simulcast.

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