The organizing committee of this year’s Southeast Asian (SEA) Games has announced that 50% of the broadcast rights for the multi-sport event have been sold in the region.
Rights have been acquired in Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, in addition to a deal in the host country Cambodia – five of the ‘big 10’ countries in the region.
It was announced in January that the games will be shown in Vietnam by pay-television broadcaster VTVcab, with the country becoming one of the first in the SEA region to acquire broadcasting rights for the 32nd edition of the games from Cambodia.
The organizers have now announced a deal with media company MNC Media in Malaysia, as well as agreements in Indonesia and Singapore, although the broadcasters in the respective countries are yet to be revealed.
The rights are being distributed in the region by agencies Apollo Media and On Media (in Vietnam) on behalf of the Cambodian SEA Games organizing committee (CAMSOC).
Vath Chomroeun, the secretary general of CAMSOC, said: "We have reached one step, almost 50% of the 10 countries so far have not yet bought rights to the competition, but we have already sold 50%, which means we have 50% support and are on this positive path towards success.
“We do not expect some small countries to buy the rights but even small countries that do not buy the rights, if they ask for it, we will grant it to them.”
This year’s edition of the SEA Games is the first time the competition’s rights are being sold after traditionally being distributed among Southeast Asian broadcasters for free.
CAMSOC spokesperson Venu Ganesh Ramadas said selling the rights would help the hosts recover some of the organizing costs of the competition.
Domestically, the games will mainly be shown by Cambodian Sports Television (CSTV), although other networks will also be given permission to broadcast the games.
Thailand is one of the only big 10 countries in the region yet to agree a rights deal as it is involved in a dispute with the organizers over the price.
Cambodia has significantly increased the rights fee from the $10,000 charged by Vietnam for the previous edition to almost $900,000.
Broadcasters in Thailand have protested the increase in price and officially asked for negotiations and/or support from the Thai government in order for the 2023 game to be shown for free within the country as it is a public listed event.
However, Chomroeun stated that the games are priced at “market value”, but revealed that negotiations are ongoing.
Cambodia is hosting the SEA Games for the first time this year, with the event scheduled to take place from May 5 to 17 in the capital city of Phom Penh. Eleven member countries are due to take part.
Vietnam hosted the last edition of the traditional biennial event in May 2022, after that iteration was postponed from 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, national carrier Cambodia Airways and short-form video platform TikTok have been unveiled as sponsors of the games.
Through the agreement, Cambodia Airways will provide transport services for all the delegation of athletes of Southeast Asian members.
TikTok will provide content around the SEA Games and promote the region as a tourism destination.
The platform will also support the broadcast of events, as well as provide behind-the-scenes interviews, athlete content, and highlights.