Business

Premier League agrees major deal for Chinese TV rights

  • 18 November 2016
  • From the section Business
Swansea score against Manchester United Image copyright All Sport

The Premier League has agreed a major new deal for its TV rights in China, which could be worth up to $700m (£560m).

The three-year contract with Chinese video streaming service PPTV is set to be the league's biggest-ever overseas broadcast sale.

A PPTV source told the BBC a deal was in place.

If the reported value is confirmed, it would be worth ten times more than the league's current China TV deal.

The Premier League is yet to comment.

Superpower ambitions

PPTV is owned by Chinese retailer Suning, which is already invested in European football after it bought a controlling stake in Italian club Inter Milan in June.

China's President Xi Jinping has led a drive for businesses to invest more in football in a bid to turn the country into a footballing superpower.

He has set a target for the nation to be the world's biggest sports economy by 2025.

Media caption"Robin Manager" explains deal to the team

Manchester City, West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa are among the English clubs to have received investment from China over the last year.

Audiences for Premier League football are also growing strongly in China, with English clubs seeing the world's second largest economy as a major growth market.

The nation's own Super League is also helping to fuel the boom, as it attracts well-known players and managers from the European leagues.

The Associated Press news agency reported that the TV deal would be worth $700m, working out at $233m-a-year starting in the 2019-2020 season. Other reports have suggested the deal is worth $600m.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Football is enjoying a boom in China, with the nation's Super League attracting top players

The Premier League's largest overseas TV rights deal is currently with US broadcaster NBC, which paid $1bn for six seasons, or $167m per campaign.

But the main source of the league's income still comes from the UK.

British broadcasters Sky and BT last year agreed to pay a record £5.14bn for three seasons, starting with the current 2016-2017 campaign.


Analysis by Robin Brant, BBC News, Shanghai

If Manchester United and other top English Premier League clubs are willing to parade their players in a series of exhibition games across China as soon as the domestic season is finished, then you can see how important this market is.

EPL (as it's known here) is big. The fact that even David Beckham's son is the centrepiece of an advert for a smartphone in China shows you the strength of its appeal.

Basketball is long established in China. The NBA has a huge following. Rugby Union, Cricket and the NFL all have ambitions here.

But China's association with English football is deepening.

Chinese investors have acquired what seems like most of the West Midlands clubs in a show of status and financial might, but also for some a genuine attempt to build new brands that could appeal beyond their domestic base.

This broadcast deal, unsurprisingly, reveals how important web-based distribution is here for certain types of entertainment.

But what you might call 'revenue issues' remain.

There are plenty of illegal ways to watch EPL games in China and I'm pretty sure that the England away kit I saw listed on a very well-known Chinese internet retailer - for the equivalent of £7.50 - wasn't the real deal.

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