Friday, August 10, 2007


Whose tube?

The English season kicks off tomorrow and as far as Indonesia is concerned there will be a lot less people following the spats and action. Free to air TV have been priced out of showing matches and there is confusion as to which cable providers will be showing the main providers ESPN and Star Sports. My own cable company as of yesterday had no idea whether I could watch the games with them while the word on the street is no, only the new Malaysian company who have exclusive rights.

It's all very messy. If my company is told they can not show the games then I need to make alternative arrangements with the exclusive provider which I guess is the idea. Take away the football and cable TV is a very unattractive proposition here. So unattractive that many middle class Indonesians I know don't even bother. Till now they have acquired their interest in Chelseas and Liverpools from the free showings but what of this coming season? Will they be interested enough to go to the expense of getting cable installed or will they lose interest in the English game and settle for the Italian or German one? When I arrived here there was a fine balance between interest in England and Italy. The balance has tipped the way of the English game but many people still kept an eye on Italy. Now what? Will AC Milan and Juventus dominate the talk or will the English game keep it's high profile despite the lack of exposure?

All this has of course come about because of the latest TV deal back in the UK. Broadcasters round the world have had to up the ante to keep fans upto date on their newly adopted teams and heroes. Will the Premiership worry if Indonesians can't watch their games free? Probably not. Clubs want to sell shirts and if people can't afford to pay for a TV subscription then they are unlikely to be looking at forking out 80 USD for a shirt. But this is Indonesia and that 80USD shirt can be ripped off and sold for a tenner and people can hijack cable providers at a fraction of the price.

As far as cable TV goes Indonesia is I'm pretty sure an undeveloped market. While Singapore and Malaysia have large penetration they also have large numbers of local subscribers. It's not like that here. Most expats have some form of cable but then there are much less foreigners here long term. Are there enough Indonesians who have the finances and desire to go cable just for the football? Are we at the eve of a British style cable boom that came with BSkyB buying up the Permiership rights in 1992, or have we witnessed the boom and interest in the English league will steadily wane?

Football is horribly addictive. Will this new post 2002 generation stick with the game they have taken up and spend the money of cable TV or will they take the cheaper option and follow Italian football? Indonesia is the largest market in South East Asia for many products and football is just one of them. It's a market that has been consistently overlooked as clubs have chased the Thai baht or Japanese yen and have been scared off by the perceptions of the country. By not having English football live in TV then there is a risk that just as a recent generation have grown up with Lampard and Rooney, another generation will miss out on Walcott and Bale.

Many, many questions...

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