Business | LeSports given reprieve over English Premier League payments
Fans of Manchester United in Shanghai. Photo: Reuters
Fans of Manchester United in Shanghai. Photo: Reuters

LeSports given reprieve over English Premier League payments

The sports arm of cash-strapped Chinese tech giant LeEco will continue to broadcast matches into January after Super Sports Media Group awarded concessions on arrears

December 28, 2016 12:22 PM (UTC+8)

The sports unit of cash-strapped Chinese technology giant LeEco will continue to broadcast English Premier League football games over the New Year after reaching a compromise with the rights holders over unpaid fees.

LeSports signed an agreement in July to make all 380 matches over the 2016-17 English Premier League (EPL) season available online to its subscribers via its on-demand platforms. However, domestic media reported this week that the service could be under threat, with the firm already forced to cut 10 percent of its staff and restructure its business as a result of a cash crunch.

Ye Rong, a spokeswoman for the Beijing-based Super Sports Media Group, which holds exclusive rights to broadcast EPL games in China, said LeSports owed it as much as US$30 million.

Ye said the two sides came to an agreement on Tuesday evening, allowing LeSports to continue streaming live games over the New Year period. LeSports had started to pay back the US$30 million, he said.

“In order to protect the stability of the sports industry and the stability of the LeSports company, Supersports has made a huge concession and compromise on the payment,” she said.

LeEco did not immediately respond to comment when contacted by Reuters.

LeEco has been expanding aggressively in a range of businesses including online entertainment, electric and driverless cars, and smartphones.But the firm’s billionaire chief executive, Jia Yueting, said in a letter to staff last month that the conglomerate had expanded too quickly and was now facing cash shortages.

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