M League: The Catch 22 Situation of Broadcast Rights

Disclaimer: This is written with whatever knowledge I have on TV deals since my time at FAM, MSL as well as in hockey. The figures may not be accurate as they are more of approximately given that I only follow Football on TV as was denied accreditation.

What is happening to the broadcast deal for the 2020 season of the M League?

That will on the minds of the 24 stakeholders of the MFL as they gather for a special congress on December 14.

Interestingly most of the issues will be debated at a pre congress meeting on the night of December 13.

And the MFL Board is expected to convene on December 12 to endorse whatever they want to present to the stakeholders.

The TV rights have always been an issue, simply because most do not understand the mechanisms and above all is being used by some to enrich themselves rather then the sport.

Just look at FIFA to see at what levels the abused were that put many behind bars.

Transparency and honesty is vital in deciding the TV broadcast right. Why? Simply because in accordance with the stakeholders agreement signed with MFL, they are entitled to 70 per cent of the earnings.

Now let’s go through a simple lesson on TV Broadcasting.

Firstly the number of matches.

Super League : 12 teams play a total of 132 matches

Premier League : 12 teams play a total of 132 matches.

FA Cup : Approx 32 teams , single leg knock out till quarter final is 24 matches, quarters 8 matches, semis 4 matches, final : Total : 37 matches.

Malaysia Cup: 16 teams, group of 4, quarters, semis, final : 48 group matches , 8 quarterfinal matches. Semis 4 matches and one final . Total : 61 matches

So for a whole season the total number of matches is an astonishing 362 matches.

Since we looking at broadcast rights, let’s look at Super, FA Cup and Malaysia Cup.

With 2 matches telecast live as in the past in the Super League, that 44 matches over 22 playing days.

For the FA Cup, approximately 6 matches are telecast live

And for the Malaysia Cup, let’s say another 20 matches on TV.

Having dealt with TV stations and consulted experts, the production cost of one match is around, a conservative figure , RM150,000 per match.

So for a total of 70 matches to be telecast live, the production cost alone is around RM10.5 million .

How do the TV stations recover their costing? Through selling adverts of course during the matches.

Assuming that Telekom Malaysia does go ahead with the RM30 million deal ( though strong whispers say a drastic cut has been proposed), just how much of it is for broadcast rights.

If TM takes Tier 1 matches ( the top draw matches) that will leave another 88 matches up for grabs, assuming any TV station wants to fork out money.

So this is a Catch 22 situation, MFL has the production, but no one wants it.

But MFL had Iflix as a platform but TV stations may shy off if they are given second and third tier matches to sir, depending if TM wants their rightful matches on their platform UniFi TV.

The other option is for MFL to use their in-house production company, MFL Productions who produced the matches for the 2019 at a fraction of a cost then TV stations.

It is said that each match costs around RM60,000 to produce so the remaining 88 matches will cost RM5.28 million.

How to recoup that money?

Simple. Introduce a pay per view subscription based channel on a platform as have Liverpool FC done lately,

Say you are a fan of Pahang, subscribe monthly at RM8.88 per month to catch all Pahang matches.

If a total of say 50,000 people sign up, that’s RM444,000 per month per team.

Multiply that with say 12 teams at average of RM300,000 per month, MFL pockets RM3.6 million.

But here is the catch.

Some within MFL, closely associated with money makers outside are pushing for TV stations to buy the broadcast rights.

And they are seeking for MFL Productions to be shut down or so it seems.

That has to be a really uncanny decision to undertake.

Simply because no TV Station is going to fork out RM30 million cash to buy the tights under the current economic situation.

A Pandora Box is about to be opened soon, just keep watching this space as more details will be revealed on just how RED are MFL really.

But I was told to lay off for a while, so will do just that…. a day or two break will do.