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SingTel eyes overseas expansion for pay TV service

The Singapore telco is looking at opportunities to roll out its Mio TV service beyond the local market, especially in countries where it has a geographic footprint through its associates.
Written by Ryan Huang, Contributor on

Southeast Asia's largest telco is looking to expand its pay TV service, called Mio, beyond the Singapore market to as part of a regional strategy around video.

SingTel is looking to leverage its video offering overseas. (credit: SingTel)

"We'll look at where are the opportunities, how big those markets are going to be, how strong is our telco presence, and what's the value add from TV," said Allen Lew, CEO of group digital life at SingTel. He was speaking at the telco's fourth quarter earnings briefing on Wednesday.

Lew declined to give more specific details on the market locations, but said SingTel was looking at some of the countries where it had a mobile footprint with its associates.

Overseas potential in digital switchover

Besides Australian unit Optus, SingTel's overseas associates include Indonesia's Telkomsel, Globe from the Philippines, Thailand's AIS and India's Airtel which has operations in Africa through its Zain acquisition. It has also bid for a license in Myanmar.

The SingTel executive is hoping to tap the market of consumers switching from analog to digital for premium pay TV services.

"So just like 15 years ago when we had the opportunity to go into mobile, and there was a switchover from analog system to digital, so now we're seeing the same thing for TV," he explained.

Lew added the key now was finding if it made business for the associate, as well as make sense from a standalone basis to create additional value for SingTel.

Changing landscape

The move is in line with its transformation strategy revealed on Wednesday, which includes leveraging group assets to drive scale benefits and spending S$2 million (US$1.6 billion) on acquisitions in the digital space over the next three years.

For the three months ended March, SingTel added 6,000 customers on its Mio TV service for a total of 404,000. This compares with a drop of 4,200 subscribers to 532,000 seen by rival StarHub for its cable TV service.
Last month, SingTel's pay TV business was dealt a blow when regulator Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) ordered it to share its coveted BPL football league broadcast rights with rival StarHub under cross-carriage rules. SingTel appealed the decision, claiming it had secured the rights for the next three seasons on a non-exclusive basis unlike its previous deal, which would not subject them to the rules.

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