China’s PPLive, Premier League split in copyright dispute
Published: Sep 03, 2020 10:37 PM

Premier League players Photo: IC

Domestic online sports broadcasting platform PPLive Sports International (PPLive) and the Premier League confirmed Thursday in separate official statements that they will end their partnership after a dispute over the value of copyrights.

"It is a great regret that we have not reached an agreement with the Premier League," PPLive, owned by China's Suning Group, the electronics retail giant, said in a statement.

PPLive said that it had paid the Premier League for the copyright cycle in accordance with the agreement, but the cooperation will end nonetheless.

Despite several rounds of talks, the two sides were unable to settle their differences on the value of the copyrights, PPLive said.

The Premier League said in a much shorter confirmation on Thursday that "it has today terminated its agreements for Premier League coverage in China with its licensee in that territory," and it said it would have no further comment at this stage.

The Chinese platform said the ending of the agreement was partially due to the challenges brought about by the global pandemic, which had become more prominent in the copyright negotiations.

However, Martyn Ziegler, chief sports reporter for The Times, said on Twitter on Thursday that the Premier League terminated the deal with PPLive over 160 million pounds ($120.7 million) in unpaid copyright fees. 

PPLive acquired the exclusive rights to broadcast the Premier League in the Chinese mainland and Macao Special Administrative Region in the deal, which was to have run from 2019 to 2022. 

The contract was believed by some observers to have called for record payments of $721 million for the rights, the highest price ever paid to Premier League for overseas rights.

PPLive's strategic development direction will not change, and the copyright policy adjustment is a normal development based on objective facts and strategic considerations, the statement said.

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