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How Vietnam’s love for football leads to country’s loss in telecast right selling game

Thursday, September 12, 2019, 12:11 GMT+7
How Vietnam’s love for football leads to country’s loss in telecast right selling game
Vietnam's players fight for the ball during their match against Thailand at Asia’s second qualifying round for the 2022 FIFA World Cup near Bangkok, September 5, 2019. Photo: Nguyen Khoi / Tuoi Tre

In football-loving Vietnam, TV operators always try to obtain telecast rights of almost all matches of the national team, even at exorbitant costs, but when they take the role of a copyright seller, it is a real struggle to find generous buyers, if any.

A Vietnamese entity could spend a great deal of money on buying the rights to broadcast football matches at competitions or tournaments few fans in other countries are interested in.

How Next Media, a Vietnamese digital content provider, has been buying and selling the telecast rights of Group G matches in Asia’s second qualifying round for the 2022 FIFA World Cup is the latest example of this ‘buy high, sell low’ issue.

During this second qualifying round, 40 Asian teams are divided into eight groups of five teams to play home-and-away round-robin matches.

Vietnam, who share Group G with Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the UAE, will play eight games - four home and four away matches - from September 5, 2019 to June 9, 2020.

While Next Media had to pay a lot to secure the rights to broadcast the four away games of Vietnam, it just failed to find any buyer for the other four matches on Vietnamese soil.

According to Nguyen Minh Chau, deputy general secretary of the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF), FIFA rules that the rights to broadcast a game during the World Cup qualifiers belong to the football governing body of the host country.

The football governing body for its part is allowed to transfer the telecast rights to a second party.

Vietnam’s latest qualifying match was a goalless draw with Thailand near Bangkok in Group G opener on September 5.

The Football Association of Thailand authorized a Thai company to sell the broadcast rights of this game and Next Media closed a deal with this entity to air and stream the match in Vietnam.

The price of the deal was not disclosed, but it should be so high that Vietnam’s national television VTV, one of the potential buyers, did not agree to pay.

Vietnam and Thailand players fight for the ball during their match at the Asia’s second qualifying round for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Bangkok, September 5, 2019. Photo: Nguyen Khoi / Tuoi Tre

Vietnam and Thailand players fight for the ball during their match at Asia’s second qualifying round for the 2022 FIFA World Cup near Bangkok, September 5, 2019. Photo: Nguyen Khoi / Tuoi Tre

“Foreign telecast right holders always take advantage of the strong desire to acquire the rights of Vietnamese entities, so they just raise their asking prices through the roof,” said Next Media general director Nguyen Trung Kien.

Indeed, the telecast right holder of the Indonesia - Vietnam game in the World Cup qualifiers in Jakarta on October 15 has pushed the price to VND5 billion (US$215,000).

For comparison, VTV only had to pay $5 million to broadcast all 64 games of the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals in Vietnam.

This means the cost to air a game was only $78,125, far cheaper than the $215,000 rate being asked for the qualifier between the two Southeast Asian countries.

Next Media has been authorized by the VFF to sell the broadcast rights of the four Group G games on Vietnamese turf, but the company said there have simply been no interested buyers, at least up to now.

One TV network in Southeast Asia did approach Next Media for the broadcast rights of the Vietnam - Malaysia match in Hanoi on October 10, but it proposed a bid price of only $15,000, according to a source close to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

This is only 6.9 percent of what Next Media was asked for the telecast rights of the game in Indonesia.

Despite this, Kien, the Next Media general director, underlined that football fans in Vietnam should be reassured they will not miss any game of Vietnam during the Asian section of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification, as his company will “acquire the telecast rights at all cost.”

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