April 12, 2012

i-CABLE Announces Cross-Platform Plan for London 2012 Olympics

i-CABLE Communications Limited, Official Broadcaster of the London 2012 Olympic Summer Games in Hong Kong, today (April 12) announced further details of its cross-platform plan bringing Hong Kong people unprecedented and extensive coverage of this quadrennial mega sports event.

Announcing the details at a press conference, project manager of i-CABLE's London 2012 Olympic Games Organising Committee, Mr William KWAN Jut-ho, and i-CABLE Sports Limited Vice President, Ms Isabelle TSANG Kwan-fung, said that i-CABLE as both content provider and official broadcaster of the Games would make the best use of multiple platforms to carry the opening and closing ceremonies and cover as many exciting competitions of the 26 events as possible during the entire Games period from July 17 to August 12.

Details of the coverage plan are as follows:

1. Pay TV

(a) i-CABLE Sports will produce the Olympic programmes in HD format for various platforms. Each of the self-produced Olympic channels will provide at least 10 hours of live programmes everyday covering as many events as possible, including both high-interest and less popular competitions, with a view to bringing citizens the most professionally produced and comprehensive coverage ever.

(b) During the Games period, i-CABLE Sports will provide at least 4 Olympic channels including 2 self-produced, 24-hours Olympic Main Live Channels in HD format and simulcasting in SD.

(c) These two Main Live Channels will carry live competitions from London everyday from afternoon to midnight Hong Kong time corresponding to actual Games hours in London. During other hours, taped competitions and daily highlights will be carried.

(d) A special live channel will be dedicated to covering 36 men's and women's football matches.

(e) An extra live channel would be put on standby for key competitions and finals that could not be included on the two main live channels.

(f) CABLE TV's Channel No.1 will also carry Olympic programmes with more details to follow soon.

2. Internet

The Internet is highly used in Hong Kong through both fixed and mobile service networks. Government figures show that, as of October 2011, Hong Kong had 7.7 million 2.5G and 3G mobile broadband service users and over 2.23 million fixed-line broadband service users. This demonstrates the wide proliferation of the Internet among our citizens, many of whom have already been watching pay and free TV programmes on their computers, mobile smart devices and mobile phones and this trend is on the rise.

In view of such developments, i-CABLE riding on its successful online carriage of the Beijing 2008 Olympics will provide designated webpages on its website (www.i-cable.com) for the London Games, offering both live streaming and clips of its Olympic programming.

i-CABLE will also provide Games programming to paying customers and the general public through self-developed mobile apps.

3. Olympics in 3D for TV

CABLE TV's carriage of live Barclays English Premier League matches in 3D for TV format proves to be very well received. We have been getting enquiries from viewers, advertisers, sponsors and media friends expressing a keen interest in watching Olympic programming in 3D. We are proactively discussing with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) details of carrying certain events such as the opening and closing ceremonies, aquatics, track and field as well as gymnastics competitions in this format and hope to be able to announce further details as soon as possible providing Hong Kong people with such unrivalled Olympic viewing experience.

Responding to questions on new domestic free TV licences, Mr Kwan, who is also i-CABLE's Director and Chief Financial Officer, said that Fantastic Television Limited submitted an application almost two and a half years ago and had since been waiting for the outcome of the Government's approval process. Other than ATV's objections and judicial review application, the Group did not know if there had been other reasons delaying the process.

In view of the short amount of time in the run-up to the Olympics, he said that chances of Fantastic getting a licence in time to carry the Games on its free TV platform were rather slim, adding that the current administration might not be able to finish the process within its present term whereas the new administration might have different policy priorities after taking office.

"Even if the Chief Executive-in-Council would grant its in-principle approval right now, the licensing negotiations would be a complicated and lengthy process taking at least several months. Chances of Fantastic carrying the Games are not high, unless the Government is prepared to fast track the negotiations," he said.

"i-CABLE's network covers 2.3 million or 97% of Hong Kong's households. Most citizens could watch the Games either by subscribing to our pay TV services or via the Internet using their computers, smart devices or mobile phones.

"Currently many people are already watching pay or free TV programmes on their computers, smart devices or mobile phones via the Internet. This trend is on the rise and is not limited to any particular age or occupational groups.

"A key element of our Olympic coverage therefore is to ride on this trend and make the best use of the Internet to free us from the rather restrictive tradition of watching programming in the living room only. What we are offering will enable Hong Kong people to watch the Games at any time and from anywhere.

"Under our cross-platform coverage, viewers can watch extensive Olympic programming on various platforms which would well surpass coverage of past Games previously available on local free TV in terms of scale, hours, channels and means of reception." he said.

Asked if i-CABLE would consider letting the two incumbent free TV service operators carry the Games, Mr Kwan said that so far neither had initiated any such requests.

i-CABLE is well regarded for producing and broadcasting world-class sports events such as the Olympics, World Cup and Asian Olympics and bringing them to Hong Kong viewers. It became the first local broadcaster carrying the Winter Games in 2006 with the Torino Games and was subsequently appointed by the Olympics International Committee in August 2007 as the official broadcaster in Hong Kong for the London 2012 Olympics. In yet another unprecedented move, i-CABLE carried the Beijing 2008 Olympics on the Internet providing both live coverage and archived footages. In 2010, the Vancouver Winter Games were broadcast on its pay TV and Internet platforms.