China overtakes USA as EPL market for TV rights

The amazing growth of the Chinese economy has enabled it to outspend the United States for yet another commodity: Premier League TV rights.

A three-year deal worth about $700 million has been negotiated to show Premier League games in China, starting with the 2019-20 season, through digital broadcaster PPTV. The deal is reportedly worth nearly 12 times the current three-year deal with Super Sport Media Group that is valued at about $60 million, and is much more than the $500 million NBC will pay during the same period.

Last year NBC extended its Premier League deal through the 2021-22 season at a price of $1 billion for the six seasons starting with the current one.

PPTV is a division of Suning Holdings, which earlier this year purchased a majority stake in Inter Milan. The nation’s president, Xi Jinping, is encouraging companies to create a portfolio of sporting investments centered on soccer properties.

Seldom does a league negotiate deals when current deals have just begun but by doing so the Premier League has secured about $1.2 billion for the next rights period from just two sources. Worldwide, the League already brings in an estimated $10 billion over three seasons, including $6.8 billion in domestic contracts.

PPTV is a video-streaming Website that paid $270 million last year for the exclusive media rights to La Liga.

“What we have now in China that we didn’t have even three years ago is this massive competition for sports properties that’s driving prices up,” said Mark Dreyer, the Beijing-based founder of industry website China Sports Insider. “While it’s still less than what broadcast rights go for in the U.K. or U.S. [for other sports], it is untested if Chinese consumers will pay to watch in enough numbers that these investments can be recouped.”

The Premier League has chosen a free-to-air system rather than a pay TV operator after losing ground to other leagues and other sports properties. Some games were watched by less than 1,000 viewers.

It has opted for the broadest possible reach and the deal – which includes free-to-air coverage as well as regional outlets – allows PPTV to re-sell a large number of games in different packages.

A drop in viewing numbers for Premier League telecasts in the United States and United Kingdom has caused concern for league executives, enamored of the skyrocketing value of domestic and international rights since its launch in 1992.

When the league started, it generated almost nothing in overseas TV rights. It will collect nearly $3 billion a year when the new deals kick in.






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