Cornering soccer TV rights in China
IN THE high-stakes race to control soccer TV rights in China, with a potential market of hundreds of millions of fans, an electronics retailer is betting up to $2 billion (R25.89bn) that could give it a near monopoly on broadcasting the sport at home.
Suning Commerce Group, a retail conglomerate with annual revenue of around $22bn, owns Italian soccer club Inter Milan, and is fast securing the rights to air matches from Europe’s top leagues in China.
It already owns rights to Spain’s La Liga and the Chinese Super League, has bought future seasons of top-flight German and English soccer, and is looking to secure Italy’s Serie A and Asian soccer, three people familiar with its plans said. Suning’s rise to prominence is all part of China’s power-grab in world soccer.
China’s domestic sporting market – from soccer to basketball and beyond – could be worth 5 trillion yuan (R9.58trln) by 2025.
Key to a share of that profit is the right to show matches from major leagues, and Suning’s PPTV video streaming website is sweeping most rivals out of the way. Competition from Sina Sports and technology giant Tencent, though, means it’s costly to stay out in front.
“Historically in China, there was good interest from fans, but not a lot of competition between media rights buyers,” said Jamie Reigle, Hong Kong-based Asia Pacific managing director for Manchester United, the world’s wealthiest soccer club.
“Now you have the digital platforms that have come in and want to build an audience. That’s what has changed the dynamic.” – Reuters