Le Sports, which is operated by Chinese internet company LeEco, has confirmed a wide-ranging strategic partnership with media group Ti’ao Dongli headlined by exclusive broadcast rights in a number of markets to the Chinese Super League, the top division of domestic football.
The five-season rights deal runs from 2016 to 2020. Le Sports will live stream CSL matches in mainland China, the US, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Canada, and “much of” Southeast Asia. In September, Ti’ao Dongli acquired the domestic broadcast and production rights to the Super League from 2016 to 2020.
Starting with the 2016 season, Le Sports and its subsidiaries Zhangyu TV and Soda Soccer will live stream all 240 CSL matches in high definition. As part of the five-season partnership, Le Sports said it is also planning to launch a new product in 2018 that requires users to pay for watching CSL games online.
In 2016, Le Sports will work with Ti'ao Dongli to test and implement high-speed cameras, 360 degree panoramic shots, as well as virtual reality and augmented reality technology. In order to encourage direct user participation, Le Sports will invite sports fans from around China to host CSL matches on Zhangyu TV.
Le Sports will also break the tradition of the league only receiving coverage at the weekends. Magazine programming during the week is being planned under the banners of ‘CSL Tactician’, ‘CSL Face-to-Face’ and ‘CSL Stats’.
Both companies have also announced a cross-shareholding plan and agreed to leverage their strengths and expertise in working toward expanding global viewership of the CSL.
Le Sports chief executive Zhenjian Lei said: “Le Sports is constantly trying to break through the bottleneck of traditional broadcasting using the internet and innovation. We believe that with Ti'ao Dongli, we will be able to explore new ways to amplify and commercialise the CSL on its way to globalisation using our internet-powered platforms. This will be revolutionary and exemplary for the entire Chinese sports industry, while also being a part of Le Sports' ecosystem to profit from upstream to downstream.”
Chairman of Ti'ao Dongli, Li Yidong, added: “With world leading leagues in mind as competitors, we will make every effort to help increase the value of the CSL and drive the reform of China's football industry to a virtuous circle.”