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Tue 7 Jul 2009 04:17 PM

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Showtime set for talks after losing Premier League deal

EXCLUSIVE: TV chief hopes to strike deal with ADMC to continue football coverage.

Showtime Arabia revealed on Tuesday it is to hold talks with Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC) after losing out to its rival in the battle to show English Premier League football.

Marc-Antoine d’Halluin, president and CEO of the pay TV service provider, exclusively told Arabian Business that Showtime hopes to carry Abu Dhabi sports channels which air all Premier League matches from 2010 onwards.

Dubai-based Showtime unsuccessfully bid to extend its three-year contract, which expires next May when the 2009-10 season ends.

“What we are hoping to achieve is to reach an agreement with our friends at Abu Dhabi media in order to continue securing the Premier League on the Showtime platform,” d’Halluin said.

“This would be achieved by Showtime distributing the Abu Dhabi sports encrypted channels on our platform.

“Abu Dhabi will associate their name with the Premier League, which we think is a great thing because already the city, as we all know, is closely associated with the league through Manchester City. We see the logic in this association and Premier League matches being featured on an Abu Dhabi channel.”

Talks between Showtime and ADMC have yet to take place, with d’Halluin insisting he is in no hurry to start negotiations.

“There is no rush because the Premier League season 2009-10 is going to be broadcast exclusively on Showtime,” he said.

On July 3, ADMC announced it had secured rights to show Premier League football on its sports channels for three seasons starting from Aug. 2010.

The unexpected announcement led to suggestions that Showtime subscription numbers among sports fans could drop once its Premier League contract runs out.

But d’Halluin insisted the TV company has several other channels and shows to satisfy existing customers and entice new ones.

He said: “If we were not able to reach an agreement I would be disappointed, but Showtime is not limited to the Premier League in any way or form.

“It is a premium pay television platform that features movies, series, a lot of third party channels totalling more than 40, and sports with Premier League golf, rugby and now cricket. The dependency of Showtime vis-a-vis the Premier League is extremely limited.

“Rights come and go, but at the end of the day what is more important is the platform and our subscribers know we will bring them the very best entertainment.”

d’Halluin said he saw no reason why Showtime could not agree a deal with ADMC. But he insisted any failure to finalise a tie-up would not spell disaster for the company.

He added Showtime’s recently launched high definition channel, which will air movies, TV shows and Premier League football for the coming season, was just one feature that would excite viewers.

“There is not a month at showtime where we are not innovating by launching new products and concepts and I would expect this to remain the case,” he said.

“We are not limited to the Premier League and there are other sports and things we can bring. We are the premium pay TV platform in the region, which means we bring the very best of Western and Arabic entertainment.”

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall

Mohammad 11 years ago

abu dhabi tv is not doing the right thing first of all..OK it has tonnes of cash but it should also think about pay tv providers who are already suffering from dth receivers bought from south Asia,as reported many times in the media.such sports events are something by which people stick to subscribing to the pay tv network and suppose if adtv reject their proposal and show the matches free..i will feel sorry for the showtime co..be fair to everyone...

L.E.O 11 years ago

I think the CEO knows very well what he will be loosing (atleast I hope so!) I have showtime myself and I guarantee that there are thousands, especially in the uae who have got showtime for the purpose of premierleague. Loose the premierleague deal, get ready to loose a lot of customers.Personally, having lived in many countries in GCC and in Europe, I dont think showtime offers any extraordinary entertainment for the value of money..Premierleague is the most important factor.. I hope they will be able to rectify this problem..

Harry Winston 11 years ago

Most providers like Showtime, Orbit etc have lousy coverage and shows. Tata SKY in India has over 300 channels for AED 20/month. Also includes channels exclusively showing world movies (subtitled in English). UK has SKY T for 20-25 pounds with excellent programming , including 24 hour tennis, golf etc. Showtime has no Wimbledon, French Open or any tennis coverage . They need to improve their overall programming and service provided . Or Just get Dish Satellite TV from India and get 800 channels for 20 dirhams a month.

Muhammad Hasani 11 years ago

I personally hope Showtime loses many many customers. Showtime signal was lost in our building. I sent numerous requests for them do something. They chose to send engineers after 7.30pm when they could not see anything due to the darkness. In fact every building in the area lost the signal due to construction, and I informed them of this, and they did nothing. They have no respect for customers, and now whilst seeking to make a deal with ADMC, the CEO has the nerve to say he's in no hurry as they still have exclusive rights for another year. I hope showtime lose many more customers, as they are unaware how to treat their existing customers.

Darren 11 years ago

Showtime is dead, as soon as they stop showing the EPL matches, im cancelling the subscription. The rest of the viewing is lousy, its a shame because the punditry on the football is always good, but without the EPL they are lying to themselves if they think they can compete.

Cletus 11 years ago

Last year when the EPL season was over, I was offered 3 months free viewing of all Showtime movie channels. This year I asked them if they had the same/similar offer and was curtly told that they do not have any free viewing offer of their movie channels. So now between EPL seasons, I never switch on Showtime but watch Phela instead and if Showtime loses EPL so will they lose my subscription. I personally think they have taken me for granted like so many thousand other subscribers. Pull up your socks Mr. CEO and entice you current subscribers to remain loyal instead of adopting the 'Que sera, sera' attitude!

MIKE SILVESTER 11 years ago

Does that mean that we can get more rugby (a mans - not a boys sport) on the channel?

Dubai_Anonymous 11 years ago

Muhammad Hasani, I disagree with your comments on Showtime. Not every building in UAE has the full capacity to get you the best signal, as it varies in every building. You said it urself, if there is construction going on around your bldg, how can you blame showtime for this? I had the same problem in my bldg in Intl City, but I found a way around it, I checked every single corner of the bldg until i got a 60% signal rate, which is better than nothing. I suggest you flag this issue with the customer service and request they come to you at ur preferred time, thats exactly what i did, and they came on saturday afternoon... problem solved... and to the fan speaking of tennis, u cannot generalize... u represent 1% of viewers in the region who would want tennis 24/7 on ur screen... needless to say football is the biggest sport in the region, and the premier league is the best league in the world, BY FAR! and thats on showtime... i'm an arab and i watch football whenever i have the chance to, i get the option of watching it in english and arabic (depending on the commentator)... also i have a showbox recorder which enables me to record any game i want, especially when im out of time... no one has ever done this b4 in the region... and for the ppl saying there are lots of crap on the other channels, i personally watch movies and series and as far as i know they have the latest seasons of lost and prison break (my 2 fave shows) and all the other pay tv networks and even free to air (dubai one, mbc2) show it month later... i think u are missing a distinctive advantage that showtime has over its competitors... also when u watch movies on free to air, how annoying is it every 15 mins u get a 5 minute commercial, u end up watching a 1.5 hour movie in 3 hours!!! at showtime u watch the whole movie without any ads, isnt this is a plus?!? they have brought in the best ex-premier league players in to their studio every week... give them some credit where its due... u guys shud stop whinging about minor issues and look at the bright side... i pay a lot for my subscription and i believe it is justified... i really do hope showtime are involved with the premier league for many more years to come...

harry winston 11 years ago

we are not whining but in General Showtime overcharges and under dilivers on programming. In India its cheaper ( given large population economics) and the programming is great. In the UK ( which is highly taxed and expensive) the SKY is cheaper and has better programming. with regards to Tennis, not many people play but most of us watch it. Morever they dont even show Wimbledon , which is like the Football World cup, but prefer to show Slamball ( how many people in UAE play slamball).Airtime on Showtime is filled with cheap programming

Dubai_Anonymous 11 years ago

you are very brave to say they are overcharging... what are u comparing it against to say they are overcharging? i find it quite reasonable.. actually sky charge the same amount as showtime, check their website and do the currency conversion... i agree with your point about slamball, i think its a horrible sport (or whatever it is) but they have 4 sports channels to fill that operate 24 hrs a day, they cant keep repeating the same football, rugby, and cricket all the time can they?? also football and cricket are the 2 most followed sports in this region and which are both on showtime... (the ashes has just started as we speak) this is not a monopoly like sky, there are around 5 pay tv operatrs in this region all fighting for programs, u cant have everything. of coourse i would prefer to subscribe to one company and get it all, but unfortunately it doesnt work that way in this region... cheap programming?? i cmpletely disagree... there is something for my whole family, including my 2 kids... look at my previous comment about what we get from showtime that u dont get anywhere else... anyway we are entitled to our opinions and i respect yours...