Chinese online TV provider PPTV, a media division of the country’s Suning retail group, announced today an exclusive partnership with China Sports Media to broadcast the 2017 season of the Chinese Football Association Super League (CSL) (in Chinese).
The one-year deal, worth RMB 1.35 billion, will allow PPTV to air all of the CSL’s 240 matches on PC and mobile terminals. In 2015, China Sports Media paid RMB 8 billion for rights to produce and transmit signals and sell broadcasting rights related to the CSL games between the 2016 and 2020 seasons.
This is yet another extension of PPTV’s foray into sports events broadcasting after it has gained the live rights for matches from Spain’s La Liga (with royalty payments of around RMB 1.8 billion) and Britain’s Premier League (for RMB 5 billion) in China since August 2015.
PPTV’s partnership with China Sports Media also marks the knockout of rival LeSports in the contest for the broadcasting rights.
This deal is another blow to LeSports, the sports arm of Chinese online video firm LeTV, which has recently lost its rights to broadcast the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) games in China due to a payment default. Earlier at the end of 2016, the sports media firm narrowly escaped being stripped of the broadcasting rights of Britain’s Premier League as it managed to pay a portion of its contract price at the deadline.
The Chinese internet giant, which once saw its market value fall to RMB 70 billion this January from a peak of 150 billion RMB (in Chinese), has been struggling with a cash squeeze after years of breakneck expansion.
Apart from smartphone and TV manufacturing, LeEco has branched into the film and television production, music, gaming, electric vehicle and sports industry. Its operating income doesn’t come close to its cash burn rates, despite the several funding rounds it secured.
In contrast, PPTV has received support from the country’s largest electronic retailer Suning. In 2013 Suning bought a 44% stake, becoming PPTV’s largest shareholder.
While leading players including iQiyi, Youku Tudou, Tencent Video and Sohu.com continue to battle for the top spot in the country’s video streaming sector, PPTV hopes to find their niche in live events broadcasting.