CSM reaches agreement on renegotiated 10-year CSL rights deal
China Sports Media, the sports marketing agency in country, has reached an agreement with the Chinese Super League over a new long-term media rights deal after months of renegotiations.
The agency has been locked in talks to alter the terms of its record five-year Yn8-billion ($1.27-billion) CSL media rights and production agreement, a deal that began in 2016 having been signed at the height of exorbitant spending in the Chinese market.
CSM and the Chinese Football Association Super League are now understood to have reached an accord over the terms of a deal that would run until 2025, and are in the process of finalising the contract.
The duo are expected to hold a press conference in the coming days, where they will be able to announce an ‘uplift’ in the overall value of the Yn8-billion contract, but, on an annualised basis, the price paid will represent a marked fall on CSM’s current outlay.
The reworked deal is thought to be worth Yn11 billion over a decade, or Yn1.1 billion per year, compared to CSM’s current average outlay of Yn1.6 billion per year.
Rights spending in China has cooled since CSM’s initial deal and the league, under pressure from the government, introduced rules that at least one Chinese player under the age of 23 and a maximum of three foreign players should play in each CSL game, leaving CSM to seek a reduction in its rights fee, given the impact on global appeal.
CSM, Shanghai Media Group, state broadcaster CCTV and regional broadcaster Guangdong TV were the shortlisted bidders when the league issued its invitation to tender in 2015.
Sportcal understands that the trio who lost out to CSM in the last rights auction have been set a deadline of tomorrow evening to make improved offers to rival the incumbent's new long-term rights proposal.
Asked about the renegotiations, Jun Zhao, China Sports Media’s chief executive, told Sportcal during last October’s Sportel trade fair: “We are in negotiation with the CSL to find a solution to keep the deal and keep the league and football in China developing sustainably as long as possible. This policy will in the short term influence the value of the CSL.
“The elements that attract a lot of fans to the CSL are the superstars. But in the long term we agree that it [the league’s policy] is healthy for the development of Chinese football. A lot of foreign countries have a similar policy.”
She added: “We can make sure the value of the deal doesn’t crash. To be frank, due to the market situation now, if we cannot find some good values, then the media rights value of the CSL will go down terribly. If we have more space in the long term, we can continue to invest more in promotion and production.”
In the middle of last year, CSM agreed with the league to delay a Yn600-million rights payment until a new deal had been thrashed out.
Following its five-year CSL agreement, CSM subsequently sold rights on to LeSports in an exclusive five-year deal, worth Yn2.7 billion for the 2016 and 2017 seasons alone. However, the digital broadcaster’s financial woes led to missed payments and CSM went on to sign an initial one-year agreement instead with PPTV, the Suning-owned online streaming service.
CSM has targeted longer-term domestic rights deals with PPTV and CCTV once a revised agreement is finalised.
The agency has also been considering a limit on the number of regional broadcasters showing the league, while also recognising that the likes of PPTV and CCTV need longer-term agreements to monetise their investment.
The IMG agency was brought on board to market the CSL’s international rights in a contract covering the 2016 and 2017 seasons and following a wave of spending by clubs on overseas stars.
Working with IMG, Zhao said at Sportel that the CSL now enjoys distribution in 96 countries, compared to around 70 in the 2016 season.