After terminating its original contract with its Chinese broadcast rights holder PP Sports, the English Premier League (EPL) is taking legal action against the Chinese streaming platform over the alleged unpaid rights fees. The top-level English Football League is seeking $215.3 million worth of unsettled funds from PP Sports in a British court.
PP Sports is owned by Chinese E-commerce firm Suning. The Chinese E-commerce giant also owns a major stake in the Italian Serie A club Inter Milan since 2016. Bloomberg reports that the EPL is accusing the streaming platform of missing a $210.3 million payment for live matches broadcasting rights, and an additional $5 million for match highlight packages.
Earlier in September, CNBC reported that the EPL terminated a major contract with PPTV. The English football league did not further specify the reason for the termination.
In 2016, PP Sports signed a $650 million deal with EPL for the broadcasting rights between 2019 and 2022. It was the largest TV contract for the English league overseas, yet the contract was terminated after less than one season. Chinese state media IP reports that the two sides had major disagreements over contract terms shortly after the league’s suspension in March. While the league officials offered a small amount of refund, PP Sports demanded to renegotiate the contract with a much lower offering price.
According to reports from Beijing News, Wang Dong, the president of PP Sports, discussed the issue of terminating contracts with the EPL in an internal corporate email. Wang claimed that PP Sports is pushing for ‘reasonable adjustments on Chinese broadcasting rights and healthy growth of the Chinese sports industry’. Wang vowed to go with full force on defending PP Sports legal rights on the legal disputes with the EPL.
The English top-level football league has been impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic as clubs are now playing in empty stadiums. The 2020-21 season started last month on Sept. 12. Following terminating the contract with PP Sports, the EPL signed a one-year deal with Tencent Sports.
The value of Tencent’s deal has not been released, but according to reports from the Financial Times, it is less than the previous contract with PP sports. Tencent also owns the exclusive broadcasting rights of the NBA in mainland China.