EPL broadcast impasse may help boost subscribers
- But cable provider more focused on luring back clients lost during pandemic

ST JAMES, Jamaica — Even though St James-based Cornwall Communications thinks it may see some growth in its customer base because it has inked a deal with Verticast Media Group to broadcast the popular English Premier League (EPL), its bigger focus is on getting back customers whose habits changed during the coronavirus pandemic, according to marketing manager, Lamar Sinclair.

Cornwall Communications is one of a number of local cable providers that struck deals with Verticast to provide their subscribers with access to the C-Sports channels which will provide the content.

"So now we’re seeing that other competitors such as Flow and Digicel don't necessarily have the channel. We don't know if they are going to get the channel, but yeah you could see an uptick in returning customers," Sinclair told ONLINE OBSERVER Wednesday when asked for a comment.

Since word emerged that Digicel and Flow will not carry the games, social media has been abuzz with subscribers threatening to switch to other providers who will have the content. Sinclair agreed some new clients may come their way but noted that this is not in any way being viewed as a major game-changer.

"You might find customers wanting to switch from those same providers to us so you can expect that; but we’re not necessarily counting on that per se," he explained.

There are plans, he said, to offer special deals that will hopefully build their customer base; however he opted not to go into details as they are not far advanced. Their goal, he explained, has always been to gain new customers and try to regain those that have left — even those who unsubscribed during the height of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"We are more so looking at a return of customers who disconnected or left because of the whole COVID. Since COVID most people transitioned to the use of Internet and streaming platforms," he explained.

The irony is that some of their Internet-only clients may simply use a Verticast app to stream and watch the games live and so do not have to subscribe to their cable package.

The EPL begins this Friday with Arsenal facing Crystal Palace in a London derby. The uncertainty about access first emerged after Verticast, led by president and CEO Oliver McIntosh, acquired the rights for the broadcast of the world's most popular sporting league for the 2022/23 to 2024/25 season. Neither flow nor Digicel has signed up with Verticast to offer its channels, C-Sports and C-Sports 2 on their platform across the region.

Flow and Digicel previously offered the EPL on their joint venture sports channel, Rush, from the 2019/20 to 2021/22 season.

Verticast has indicated that if no deal is reached with Flow and Digicel before Friday's kick-off to the new EPL season, the matches would be available on its streaming services free of cost until August 31. C-Sports stream will be available through the website, C-Sports.tv.

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