LeSports reaches deal over Premier League rights fee

The LeSports division of Chinese internet company LeEco has reached a compromise agreement over its rights fee for the English Premier League that is set to allow it to continue covering the club football competition.

Domestic media reported last week that LeSports’ agreement with Super Sports Media Group, the agency which holds Premier League rights in China and Macau from 2013-14 to 2018-19, could be under threat amidst financial problems at its parent company.

LeSports signed an agreement in July to make all 380 matches from the 2016-17 Premier League season available online to its subscribers via its on-demand platforms.

LeSports owed as much as $30m (€28m) in payments to Super Sports Media Group, according to Ye Rong, a spokeswoman for the agency. However, Ye told the Reuters news agency that the two sides came to an agreement on December 27, allowing LeSports to continue streaming live games over the new year period.

Reuters added that LeSports has started to pay back the $30m but the repayments would only be completed in full until before the Chinese new year at the end of this month.

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

LeEco last month said it would cut 10 per cent of staff from its LeSports division amid ongoing concerns over rising debt. In November, LeEco secured $600m in funding, easing concerns over the sustainability of its expansion into multiple new business areas.

The news came after LeEco chief executive Jia Yueting said in a letter to staff that the firm is facing “big company disease”, casting doubt over its future in sectors such as online entertainment.