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New TV and sponsorship deal for the Thai Premier League

Thai League 1
Although the current TV contract between the Thai Premier League Ltd. and True Vision is still running until the end of 2016, a new contract has been signed recently for the years 2017-2020.

As announced at a press conference some weeks ago, the company which operates the Thai Premier League, the TPL Ltd., agreed on a new deal over its televsion rights with True Vision, a subsidiary of telecommunications giant True. After the cycles of 2011-2013 and 2014-2016, the new contract means the third agreement between the two parties.

With every new contract over the past years, the TPL Ltd. was able to increase its revenue from selling its TV rights and so it will be with the new contract. For four seasons from 2017 to 2020 True will pay the total amount of 4,200.000.000 billion baht (~ 102 Millionen Euro). For the current contract and a time of three years, True actually pays 1.8 billion baht (~ 44 Million Euro). Which means the TPL could almost double the income in revenue with the new contract compared to the previous one.

As in the past, True is paying for the rights to televise the Thai Premier League, the Division One, the Thai FA Cup and the League Cup. Broadcasting rights for the Regional League and the Thai national team is not included in the deal. These rights are currently are with SMM-TV (for the Regional League) and with Thairath TV for the national teams.

And as before the 'central marketing' will be maintained with the period of 2017 to 2020. In other words, each club in the first and second league will receive the same amount of money from the TPL. And of course, higher revenue for the league also means more money for the clubs. So with the new contract, it is planned that every team which is playing in the Thai Premier League is to get between 45 to 50 million Baht each year, instead of 20 millions now. Actual figures taken, 50 million Baht would mean to cover 50 percent of the average budget of a TPL side in 2015.

While for clubs of Division One, the amount is likely to increase from current 3 million up to 5 to 7 million Baht - according to reports. So with the distribution of money of the TV-pool in future, we will see the gap widens between the first and second tier. Not only financial wise. An adjustment in favour of the lower clubs would have been desirable. More money for them could allow them to sign better players, which would raise the level of play and clubs could afford to modernize their venues.

However, to have a comparison to one of Asia's Top-Leagues: The Football Federation Australia (FFA) currently gets 25 million Euro a year for the broadcasting rights on the A-League (10 teams). Including the rights for the Socceroos. But, football in Australia is not as popular as in Thailand. And so it puts the figure a bit into perspective.

Without doubt the Thai Premier League is the best and most popular (not attendance wise) league in South-East Asia, and a good TV deal should reflect it. But whether she is really worth such amount of money at the end, remain undecided. It may all the same for the TPL Ltd. and the clubs. But it will be on True to refinance the money they spend.

However, all in all True Visions isn't doing a bad job when it comes to present Thai Football. Besides the traditional way to broadcast the games, with 'Anywhere' True also offers an online platform where one is able to follow the games on its mobile devices or PC.

So, for example you can buy a so called League pass for about 1000 baht. He includes all games of a TPL season and they are available at your disposal in a library if you wish to view any game later. Another option is the "follow your team" package, if you only like to watch all the games of the team you cheer for. Unfortunately the same options are not available for the Division One. There are you left only with the option of weekend or matchday packages. But hopefully it will change soon.

In addition True offers you a highlight show with all matches which you can still retrieve up to three days after the broadcast (if you have the Sport package for 150 Baht a month or any package that includes true Sport 2). Games are on repeat on the channels around the clock and also "classic matches" of the TPL are shown at least once a week. Where True may have to work on in the future is the quality of its picture. It's still okay and fine but anno 2015 it could be more with the times.

Obviously there is also a high interest in the TPL in the neighbouring countries of Thailand. So additional revenues for the League would be possible. Although not on a large scale. The Japanese J-League for example and as reported is giving away his TV-rights almost for free to broadcasters in Southeast Asia. Nevertheless, Fox Sports showed interest in the rights for the TPL last year. But somehow it looked like the TPL Ltd. wasn't very keen on selling the rights to Fox. Maybe because one would like to maintain its appearances and didn't really like someone from abroad is looking over its shoulders for 90 (live) minutes.

Besides the new contract for television rights a new sponsorship deal was disclosed as well a few weeks ago. Where he is rather an extension of the existing contract. Japanese car manufacturer Toyota extended his contract for the naming rights of the Thai Premier Cup (between a club from Thailand and Japan) the Thai Premier League, and the League Cup for three more years. The new paper is valid from 2016 to 2018 and is worth 300 million baht.

As it seems, pro football in Thailand is approaching rosy times. Financial wise. Remains the question of whether the level on the pitch can cope with and whether the number of spectators, which have stagnated despite Nakhon Ratchasima, can reach new highs. And a league which is a two horse race between Muang Thong and Buriram United almost every season is of little interest for the neutral follower in the long run.

Because what the neutral wants to see is a tight and thrilling race for the title and entertaining quality football on the pitch in front of a great backdrop and a packed stadium.
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