Ty­coons bat­tle for on­line events as LeS­ports stum­bles

Global Times US Edition - - BIZOVE - By Dong Feng

LeS­ports, the HK-based sports stream­ing arm of cash-starved In­ter­net com­pany LeEco, is fac­ing a fund­ing cri­sis, but videostream­ing ser­vice mag­nates are com­pet­ing to take busi­ness away from the for­mer “ex­clu­sive on­line broad­cast rights em­pire.”

On July 24, Bei­jing-based video ser­vice iQIYI and the As­so­ci­a­tion of Ten­nis Pro­fes­sion­als (ATP) reached a strate­gic co­op­er­a­tion agree­ment to be­come ex­clu­sive new me­dia part­ners for 2017-20 in the Chi­nese main­land, Bei­jing Busi­ness To­day re­ported Mon­day.

Af­ter LeEco got into fi­nan­cial trou­ble, com­pa­nies such as elec­tron­ics re­tailer Sun­ing Hold­ings Group, Ten­cent and iQIYI be­gan look­ing into the core ex­clu­sive on­line broad­cast rights re­sources.

Even though th­ese com­pa­nies are fi­nan­cially strong, it is still not easy to mon­e­tize sports events through ex­clu­sive on­line broad­cast rights, ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports. Each com­pany will need to re-po­si­tion it­self and find a way to un­lock value from its copy­right re­sources.

Sun­ing has been test­ing the waters by redi­rect­ing the foot­ball events au­di­ence to its e-com­merce plat­form.

The com­pany ex­pects to in­te­grate sports events into other busi­nesses to cre­ate new rev­enue streams. As a plat­form for events broad­cast­ing, PPTV, the video stream­ing unit of elec­tron­ics re­tailer Sun­ing Hold­ings Group, will ex­plore new busi­ness mod­els such as pay-to-watch sub­scrip­tions, the re­port con­tin­ued.

Ten­cent has gained years of op­er­a­tional ex­pe­ri­ence with the Na­tional Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion. But com­pared with bas­ket­ball, the au­di­ence base for events such as ten­nis or the Tour de France could be tiny.

iQIYI is fac­ing a sim­i­lar chal­lenge. For some sports events, the plat­form has not in­vested to pro­mote its broad­cast­ing. Users may need to go to some trou­ble to spot the pro­gram source. Pay­ment for events broad­cast­ing yet to be ac­ti­vated, the re­port said.

“It’s im­por­tant to de­velop user stick­i­ness. Based on that, video web­sites can be more in­no­va­tive while cre­at­ing more busi­ness mod­els for added value,” He Wenyi, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Pek­ing Univer­sity’s China In­sti­tute for Sports Value, told the Global Times on Sun­day.

“Pay-to-watch sub­scrip­tion ser­vices don’t have to be the only choice. In the fu­ture, video plat­forms can di­ver­sify into third-party spon­sor­ship deals and in re­turn, au­di­ences can fol­low the sports events they love for free,” He noted.

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