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France's Ligue 1 expands China coverage

By Shi Futian | China Daily | Updated: 2018-07-31 10:20
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The superstar presence of Kylian Mbappe (left) and Neymar on the pitch for Ligue 1 giant Paris Saint-Germain has massively boosted the profile of France's top flight, which is set to gain more viewers in China thanks to a new digital rights deals with PP Sports. [Photo/VCG]

Hot on the heels of the country's World Cup victory and the inexorable rise of Kylian Mbappe, French soccer is tapping into its growing popularity in China.

Chinese media giant Suning Sports on Saturday announced a new three-year deal for exclusive live broadcast rights to France's topflight Ligue 1 Conforama, where Mbappe, one of the stars of Les Bleus' World Cup victory, plies his trade with European giant Paris Saint-Germain.

The agreement, which also includes the Trophee des Champions and Coupe de la Ligue competitions, allows Suning to broadcast at least six matches per day on its PP Sports platform as France's Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) looks to capitalize on China's ever-expanding audience of online viewers.

Even before France was crowned world champion in Russia, the LFP was making major inroads into the Chinese market, signing a four-season agreement with China Central Television in April for the broadcast of Ligue 1 matches on CCTV-5.

"We are very pleased to launch this major partnership in China with such a renowned group," LFP CEO Didier Quillot said of the Suning deal.

"This agreement will maximize coverage of the Ligue 1 Conforama in China, and grow our fanbase.

"Coming a year or so after the opening of our offices in Beijing, the signing of the agreement with CCTV a few months ago and now this new partnership shows the competitiveness and increasing attractiveness of Ligue 1 Conforama in China."

Paris Saint-Germain, which boasts the world's two most expensive players in Mbappe and Brazilian Neymar, will face Monaco in the Trophee des Champions match (the equivalent to other countries' Super Cup) in Shenzhen on Aug 4, with 11 national, regional and digital broadcasters in China already confirmed for the match.

The coverage will be complemented by a massive digital marketing campaign.

"This cooperation is of historic significance for PP Sports and the LFP," said Zeng Gang, executive vice-president of PP Sports.

"PP Sports will continue to add value to Ligue 1 in the Chinese market, through professional coverage and Suning Group support.

"French soccer has a remarkable history. The rise of new stars in Ligue 1 Conforama and the signing of top-class foreign players will undeniably increase the professionalism and entertainment factor of Ligue 1 Conforama.

"We are convinced that, as a result of this agreement, China's younger generation will learn to enjoy French soccer more and it will contribute to the growth of Chinese soccer."

PP Sports is China's premier mobile and internet sports event broadcaster. Apart from Ligue 1, it also boasts the media rights for the Bundesliga, English Premier League and Chinese Super League, as well as other competitions like wrestling's WWE and mixed martial arts' UFC.

During the World Cup finals in Russia, PP Sports' monthly active users increased by 50 percent, with page views rocketing by 110 percent.

However, Youku, a subsidiary of Alibaba, owned the Chinese new-media rights for the World Cup, and as CCTV's partner, offered live broadcasts, video on-demand and other services for the duration of the tournament.

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