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English Premier League agrees major new rights deal in China

By Wang Mingjie in London | | Updated: 2016-11-18 20:05

English Premier League agrees major new rights deal in China

Leicester City's Islam Slimani scores their first goal against West Bromwich Albion during their Premier League match at King Power Stadium  in Leicester, Nov 6, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

Soccer's English Premier League agreed a major new deal for its TV rights in China, which could be worth up to 560 million pounds ($700 million), according to the British Broadcasting Corporation.

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

An unidentified spokesman at the Premier League said he couldn't confirm or deny the report when contacted by China Daily.

"It is highly significant that this is the largest overseas deal for the EPL, larger than NBC's deal in the USA. They have of course long looked at China, thinking of the size of the market, expecting this can have the potential to be the biggest oversea market for the League," said Mark Dreyer, founder of the China Sports Insider website, which tracks trends in China's sport industry,

The Premier League's largest overseas TV rights deal is currently with US broadcaster --National Broadcasting Company, which paid $1billion for six seasons in 2015.

Sports experts say this has happened because in China online services, including LeSport, Tecent and Sina, are competing with China Central Television, which has been dominating the sports properties for years.

The fierce competition has driven the price up, Dreyer said, but adding it is good for the Chinese consumers, because they have more opportunities to watch more of these overseas sports.

Dreyer contended that it does not really matter much to Chinese fans which platform they watch it, but he worries that there are too many players all bidding a lot of money for rights, and there are only so many premier sports rights.

"I do not think all these players can survive in the market for long term, so I would expect to see some consolidation amongst these broadcast platforms."

PPTV is owned by Chinese retailer giant Suning Commerce Group, which signed a deal worth 270 million euros ($306 million) in June to take a controlling stake in Italian cub Inter Milan.

The latest reported deal comes amid a boom of Chinese investment in western football, prompted by Chinese President Xi Jinping's ambition to become a footballing superpower, following outright acquisitions of West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Birmingham City.

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