Premier League fills void in China with one-season Tencent deal

The English Premier League has agreed a deal with Chinese digital platform Tencent for the media rights to the competition in the country for the remainder of the 2020-21 season.

Under the agreement, which follows the recent termination of a deal with streaming platform PPTV, Tencent holds live digital rights to all remaining 372 matches. It will show more than half of the matches for free, with the rest available on Tencent Sports’ membership service.

Tencent will exploit the rights across its digital platforms, which include WeChat,, Tencent Video, Penguin Live App, Tencent News App, Tencent Sports App and Kan Dian.

The league will launch an official Penguin Channel that will show a mix of videos and features about the Premier League as well as its clubs and players. The league’s clubs will also be able to share short clips during matches, the first time this has been agreed in any territory.

The deal is structured as base fee with a revenue-share component based on Tencent subscriber numbers, according to the FT. Sports newspaper, The Athletic has suggested the fee could be only 15 per cent of the $233m (€194.3m) per season streaming platform PPTV paid in its abortive deal. This would put it at around $35m for the season,

The Premier League is also looking for a free-to-air broadcaster in China for 2020-21 to supplement the Tencent deal.

The agreement comes just two weeks after the Premier League terminated its lucrative media-rights contract with PPTV after the Suning Holdings-owned broadcaster failed to meet rights fee payment deadlines.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said last week that the rights-holder wanted to make the “best decision rather than the quickest decision” when securing a new Chinese broadcast rights deal.

PPTV’s three-season rights agreement still had another two seasons to run through to the end of the 2021-22 campaign.

According to the FT, PPTV had already paid half of its contractual obligation over the three-season cycle.

Tencent Sports general manager Ewell Zhao said today (Thursday): “The Premier League is one of the world’s most popular sports competitions and has many fans in China. In collaboration with the Premier League, Tencent Sports hopes to leverage its platforms and technology to bring the drama of Premier League matches to fans and share with them the passion and excitement of football.”