EPL cancels China TV contract

The English Premier League has canceled its contract with Chinese broadcaster PPLive Sports International after just one season, the league said in a statement yesterday.

The broadcaster, part of retail giant Suning, paid around US$700 million for three years of EPL streaming rights for all 380 EPL matches per season from the 2019-20 season.

“The Premier League confirms that it has today terminated its agreements for Premier League coverage in China with its licensee in that territory. The Premier League will not be commenting further on the matter at this stage,” the league said in a statement.

British newspaper The Daily Mail reported last month that PPLive Sports withheld a payment of 160 million pounds (US$209 million) in rights fees that were due in March. That was when the EPL was suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement posted on its official company Weibo account, PPLive Sports International said that it had held negotiations over the price of the rights with the league.

“COVID-19 has brought many challenges, which have become more prominent during broadcasting rights negotiations,” the statement said.

“After rounds of talks, PPLive Sports and the Premier League have a disagreement on the price of broadcasting rights. We regret we couldn’t have an agreement with the Premier League.

“The direction of PPLive Sports’s strategic development will not change. Broadcasting rights strategy adjustment is based on objective reality and strategic thinking. PPLive Sports will continue to dedicate itself to providing high quality services to fans, copyright holders and partners.”

The deal with PPLive Sports International was struck during the peak of Chinese interest in international football and marked a huge increase in revenue on the previous deal.

Beijing-based Super Sports Media was the previous rights holder in China with local media reports suggesting it had paid more than 1 billion yuan (US$145.13 million) for a six-year deal until the end of the 2018/19 season.

The ending of the PPLive Sports deal is a further loss of income for EPL clubs following the coronavirus outbreak, which forced a stoppage in play lasting several months. The league resumed games in June and July without fans.


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