The English Premier League is the latest to cash in on China’s booming soccer economy, selling its TV rights for around US$700 million, its biggest ever overseas deal, according to reports.
The league sold the rights to PPTV in a three-year deal from 2019 according to the Associated Press, which broke the story, citing an unnamed source familiar with the deal.
Streaming site PPTV is part of Suning, the retail company that recently bought Italian club Internazionale.
Neither the Premier League or PPTV would comment.
If confirmed, the deal will be a massive increase. The Premier League, the world’s richest, had sold its rights cheaply to China in the past in a bid to boost interest. The current deal with Super Sport Media Group is said to be around US$18 million to US$20 million a year.
Premier League’s next TV deal in China will be bigger PER YEAR ($200m) than any foreign territory to date. Up almost 12x from $17m/yr now pic.twitter.com/4fWn1U9NeS
— sportingintelligence (@sportingintel) November 17, 2016
The move comes as China looks to make sport an important part of the economy and after President Xi Jinping demanded the country become a football power.
PPTV and Suning also bought rights to Spain’s La Liga last year.
The Chinese Super League shocked world football by embarking on a massive transfer spending spree, set to resume again in January when the transfer window reopens.
And investors and companies that have previously shown no interest in sport have rushed to buy teams and TV rights, agree sponsorship deals, set up streaming platforms and other endeavours.
Hong Kong previously paid the most in Asia for Premier League rights, with LeSports – one of the above-mentioned firms – shocking local fans by paying US$400 million for the rights in 2015, double the previous fee.
The Premier League claims to have 174 million fans in China, according to their research.