Broad­cast rights start­ing to be mon­e­tised in fledg­ling mar­ket of Myan­mar

Sport­cal takes an ex­ten­sive look at the grow­ing me­dia rights mar­ket in Myan­mar, a sov­er­eign state in which the me­dia rights sec­tor has grad­u­ally opened up in the last decade, in the lat­est ex­cerpt from Sport­cal’s Me­dia /and­scape ser­vice, a de­fin­i­tive onli

Sportcal - - MEDIA FEATURE -

Be­tween the 1962 coup d’état and the piv­otal gen­eral elec­tion of 2010, Myan­mar, for­mally Burma, was iso­lated from the rest of the globe, with the state main­tain­ing a vice-like grip on all forms of me­dia. While there was a chance of ac­cess­ing se­lected cov­er­age of the Olympic Games or soc­cer’s Fifa World Cup, mostly through print, the only way to find out what was hap­pen­ing out­side Myan­mar was to go to the US or UK em­bassies and read for­eign news­pa­pers. In the 1980s, cov­er­age of Euro­pean soc­cer matches was oc­ca­sion­ally trans­mit­ted on a de­lay of around two weeks, but this would soon cease, and while rights-hold­ers would later reap multi-mil­lion-dol­lar ben­e­fits from neigh­bour­ing Asian ter­ri­to­ries, Myan­mar re­mained a black hole in the mar­ket un­til well into the 21st cen­tury.

Al­though pay-tele­vi­sion in Myan­mar be­gan in 2005, cour­tesy of the For­ever Group, the most sig­nif­i­cant shift in the mar­ket to date would seem to have ar­rived five years later, through the ar­rival of Sky1et, the coun­try’s first and only DT+ ser­vice. The ser­vice op­er­ated by the Shwe Than Lwin Me­dia Group sparked a spate of break­through deals for its in-house sports chan­nels, par­tic­u­larly in soc­cer, with Eng­land’s Premier League and Uefa, Euro­pean soc­cer’s gov­ern­ing body, among the rights-hold­ers to have re­cently agreed their first-ever ter­ri­tory-spe­cific deals in this mar­ket. While there are plenty of bar­ri­ers to growth in Myan­mar, the com­bi­na­tion of the de­vel­op­ing me­dia land­scape and the chang­ing po­lit­i­cal cli­mate have brought it to the fore­front of the ever-present de­bate around the next ma­jor emerg­ing mar­ket.

With around 6.5 mil­lion TV house­holds, tele­vi­sion pen­e­tra­tion in Myan­mar is still well be­low 50 per cent in the vast ru­ral ar­eas, and around the 80-per-cent mark in ur­ban towns, ac­cord­ing to the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gover­nors, the in­de­pen­dent broad­cast­ing agency of the US govern­ment. The lead­ing play­ers in the mar­ket, un­der­stand­ably, are state­con­trolled or af­fil­i­ated, with Myan­mar 5adio and Tele­vi­sion’s chan­nels lead­ing the way, fol­lowed by the mil­i­tary-owned Myawady TV (MWD).

MRTV4, the most pop­u­lar chan­nel in Myan­mar, was es­tab­lished in 2004 by MRTV and the For­ever Group, and holds the most sig­nif­i­cant do­mes­tic sports rights in Myan­mar, through a three-year, K500 mil­lion ($585,000) con­tract signed in Fe­bru­ary 2012, to pro­vide live cov­er­age of soc­cer’s Myan­mar Na­tional League. MRTV4 also op­er­ates a sub­scrip­tion satel­lite ser­vice, launched in 2006, which now in­cludes do­mes­tic chan­nels such as the prom­i­nent Chan­nel 7, launched in 2012 by the For­ever Group, and in­ter­na­tional of­fer­ings from Fox and ESPN to China’s CCTV. For­ever Group op­er­ates the coun­try’s DTT ser­vice, reach­ing around 250,000 house­holds, as well as the coun­try’s first pay-tele­vi­sion ser­vice, es­tab­lished in 2005, charging from around $3 per month. The Ran­goon-based group dou­bled its rev­enues to around $40 mil­lion in 2012, with around $3 mil­lion driven by the launch of Chan­nel 7, and around 75 per cent gen­er­ated through the na­tional ad­ver­tis­ing mar­ket, which dou­bled in to­tal value to $80 mil­lion in 2012. The ser­vice cur­rently of­fers 70 chan­nels, 10 of which are dig­i­tal and seven in high def­i­ni­tion, in­clud­ing Fox Sports and Star Sports.

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