Cor­ner­ing soc­cer TV rights in China

The Star Early Edition - - INTERNATIONAL - Pei Li and Adam Jour­dan

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.