The news that Malaysian pay TV market leader Astro has struck a deal to share its critical English Premier League football content with IPTV rival Telekom Malaysia (TM) is very significant moment for the regional pay TV industry.
Under the terms of the deal Astro will finally make two of its SuperSport channels – which broadcast the critical EPL content – available to TM’s HyppTV IPTV platform, although only around 60% of EPL matches will be available to TM.
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has come under serious pressure in recent years – not least from some in TM itself – to step in and break Astro’s vice-like grip on exclusive content, especially the EPL.
However, unlike its near neighbour in Singapore, the Malaysian regulator has steadfastly refused to intervene in the market and introduce content-sharing regulations that force pay TV operators to make their content available to rival operators.
Hands off approach
The belief from the MCMC – and shared by key industry groups such as the Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) – has clearly been that such a market intervention would set a problematic precedent and might only serve to create additional problems.
In the end, this laissez-faire approach has paid dividends for the MCMC because market forces have come to bear and persuaded the two principal antagonists – Astro and TM – to forge a deal between themselves.
Although it could be argued that the threat of possible intervention by the MCMC has helped to force Astro’s hand in agreeing to the deal – and we will simply never know if that is true – it is by no means the only factor at play.