September 08, 2015

LeTV said to have won EPL rights for HK pay-TV fight

LeTV executive Tin Mok has outlined the firm's ambition to emerge as the second-largest pay-TV operator in Hong Kong. Photos: HKEJ, Reuters

LeTV Holdings Co., a Beijing-based internet video company, is reported to have won exclusive broadcast rights for Hong Kong for English Premier League matches for three years starting from the 2016-17 football season.

The Chinese company won the rights with a staggering bid, according to am730, which cited sources from an online media outlet.

A LeTV spokesperson did not comment on the matter but said an announcement could be made toward the end of this month, the report said.

Earlier, the company’s vice president Tin Mok made it clear that LeTV is setting sights on becoming the second-largest pay-TV operator in Hong Kong.

Existing technologies and commercial models in the industry are obsolete, he said.

nowTV, operated by PCCW Ltd. (00008.HK), was said to have won the existing English Premier League deal for US$200 million.

According to the latest report, LeTV has doubled that amount to win the deal this time around.

LeTV announced in June that it will spend up to HK$6 billion to develop the online TV market in Hong Kong, despite an influx of pirated set top boxes in the market. According to Mok, the operator is also looking at extending its business to smart cars.

Mok said the pay-TV market in Hong Kong is still being operated with outdated business model and technologies which are failing to address users’ needs.

The executive said that LeTV will deploy an Over-the-top (OTT) broadcast model without the conventional concepts of having different channels.

All of its content will be delivered via the Video On Demand (VOD) mode, which is completely consumer-driven, while also offering 4K video quality standard.

Market observers say LeTV is eyeing a slice of Hong Kong’s lucrative advertising market, while also using the city as a base to connect with overseas audiences.

LeTV is set to invest HK$100 million on locally-produced TV drama series in the coming two years to whet the appetite of the local audience.

In mainland China, LeTV is charging users six yuan per game for live broadcast of the English Premier League. There are also season and team fans packages for consumers to choose from, which are much more flexible than the fixed two-year contracts offered by Hong Kong pay TV operators.

It is believed that mainland users are paying as little as 0.76 yuan per game if they opt for the season package and two yuan per game under the team fans package.

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