With the global pandemic COVID-19 still in full force and having a huge impact on football ‘s finances, the Premier League has announced the termination of the current TV rights deal with China.
Ending two years early, the announcement came on the back of China’s PPTV channel cancelling this summer’s broadcast of Liverpool’s game with Chelsea that heralded the first title win in 30 years for the Merseyside club.
There’s no question the effect of removing the rights from such a lucrative area would be immense. Football is still suffering from the Coronavirus epidemic as a financial hangover, with clubs claiming that this summer will not see the kind of reinvestment in rosters that they have seen in previous years. This news would undoubtedly have an even greater effect of tightening up the purse-strings.
From shirt sponsorships to image rights, broadcasting the English Premier League in China has been crucial to the game’s development, but particularly to the top flight in England. As reported in The Guardian, PPTV, part of Suning Holdings in China, owed £160 million which had been due six months earlier when the initial lockout period was imposed on football as it was the country. That was part of the £564 m contract for the coverage of Premier League football that covered the years of 2019/2022, a contract that was considered the richest ever signed when it was revealed. Of course, behind closed doors, football isn’t the same thing, and it’s a matter that has sprung up as it has exploded into debates between UK and China’s political leaders.
The Premier League itself released a brief statement on the matter, stating only that “The Premier League confirms that it has today terminated its agreements for Premier League coverage in China with its licensee in that territory.” China still has the right to broadcast Italian Series A, Spanish La Liga, German Bundesliga and French Ligue 1, with Suning Holdings owning stakes in Inter Mila.
It is just the Premier League that looks as though it won’t be broadcasting in the Far East for the near future.
TV rights are a big part of the money that the Premier League makes, and as well as the £1,3bn paid by Qatar-based beIN Sports to the EPL, NBC in America is committed to broadcasting the world’s most lucrative sports export in a $1bn contract for six years. Despite the product transition these deals are not supposed to be affected. The Premier League has been estimated to gain over 4 billion a year compared to over 3 billion from TV rights, but that amount will need to be reined in, probably including transfer fees this summer and beyond.
October will see the UK Government experiment to some extent with fans heading to Premier League games. Such experiments need to be a success for the sake of those inside the community, as the announcement today has certainly emphasised.