Thai mobile operator lands Olympics rights in Plan B Media deal

Thai telecoms operator Advanced Info Service (AIS) has secured broadcast rights to the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo in a deal struck with Thai agency Plan B Media.

AIS will be able to offer coverage of the Games via mobile devices, its set-top boxes and the aisplay.ais.co.th website.

The agreement also includes the 2022 winter Olympics (in Beijing), the 2020 winter Youth Olympics (in Lausanne) and the 2022 Youth Olympics (in Dakar).

Thailand is among the 22 Asian countries in which Dentsu is the exclusive gatekeeper of the Olympics media rights up until Paris 2024. However, Dentsu this year appointed Plan B Media to sell the rights in Thailand.

The acquisition of rights is designed to attract more fixed broadband subscribers to AIS. There are currently around 900,000 subscribers to the AIS Fibre fixed broadband service but the telecoms group is targeting a total of 2 million in three years’ time.

Thailand’s TV Pool, which comprises Channel 3, Channel 5, Channel 7, Channel 9, NBT and Thai PBS, acquired rights to the 2016 Olympics in a deal with Dentsu.

NBTC, the Thai broadcast regulator, recently relaxed its must-carry legislation to ease the limitations on watching live streaming of sports via a mobile device given the shift in viewing habits.

Last year, Thailand’s Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court ordered AIS to stop broadcasting matches from the 2018 Fifa World Cup via its AIS Play app. TrueVisions, the Thai pay-TV broadcaster, had petitioned the court to protect its broadcast rights to the tournament.

The NBTC’s “must-have” rules were introduced to ensure that rights-holding broadcasters must air major sporting events on free-to-air channels as well as their own platforms. The seven events covered are: the Olympics, the Paralympics, the Fifa World Cup, the SEA Games, the ASEAN Para Games, the Asian Games and the Asian Para Games.