LeSports 'could share non-exclusive CSL rights with PPTV' for rest of contract
PPTV, the video streaming site owned by Suning, a Chinese electronics retailer, is considering a bid for rights to stream soccer's Chinese Super League, thus ending the exclusivity held until now by LeSports, the sports arm of the big-spending Chinese technology giant LeEco, according to reports in the country.
A year ago, LeSports signed an exclusive five-year deal with Ti'ao Dongli, the Beijing-based media company, to live-stream all 240 matches from the CSL in high-definition.
It was reported to be paying Yn2.7 billion ($390 million) for the CSL rights in 2016 and 2017 alone, and announced plans to launch a subscription offering from 2018.
However, reports in China claim that LeSports sees little value in having exclusive CSL streaming rights, with state broadcaster CCTV showing matches after buying sub-licensed rights (regional provincial broadcasters Beijing TV and Guangdong TV have also shown games of their local teams).
It has been reported that both LeSports and PPTV are considering proposals to offer around 500 million yuan each for rights to the forthcoming season, which kicks off on 3 March.
In September 2015, Ti'ao Dongli acquired multi-platform media rights to the CSL for 2016 to 2020 in a deal worth Yn8 billion as the value of the rights increased by 20 times amid massive inflation in China’s burgeoning digital sector.
LeEco has amassed rights to hundreds of properties in an astonishing spending spree, but has suffered problems in meeting payment deadlines and has admitted to "overextending" itself.The group announced at the end of November that it has raised $600 million in fresh funding from a dozen local investors, but insisted it would take a step back from rapid expansion in order to deal with cashflow problems.
At the end of 2016, LeSports struck a compromise agreement with the Super Sports Media agency over the payment of instalments for rights to English soccer's Premier League.
It was claimed that LeSports owed as much as $30 million in payments to the Beijing-based Super Sports following a rights agreement signed in July last year to show all 380 games from England's Premier League this season to its subscribers.