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Broadcasters stake the bet on the potential of CSL

By Pu Yang 24 Sep 2015

China, as a market where the development of pay TV is still in preliminary stage, has seen an unprecedented increase in competition for sports broadcast rights over the past few months.

Following Tencent Sports’5-year US$500M NBA deal and PPTV Sports’ €250M swoop for La Liga earlier this year, now Chinese Super League (CSL) is on the verge to sell the broadcast rights from 2016 until 2020 to one of the 8 registered bidders with a starting price over RMB300M per year.

As reported, the total costs for CCTV 5 alongside local sports television channels and the likes of Letv Sports and Sina Sports to broadcast the 2015 season of CSL are around RMB70M. However, the price took a great leap forward into RMB300+ per season in less than a year.

With the involvement from CCTV Sports& Entertainment Co,.Ltd, Infront Media and  Ti’ao Power etc., the final price for the CSL broadcast rights would possible reach RMB4M, according to reports.

Some begin to doubt the dramatic rising price of CSL’s broadcast rights with questions like “Does it worth RMB4M per year”?

In practice, the price should always be determined by market. In this view the soccer market would play a crucially significant role in pricing the rights of Chinese top tier soccer league.

In the old days, China’s leading sports channel CCTV 5 could easily pocket the CSL package if they like. However, it would not the case in the sports broadcast landscape as more brands such as the likes of Tencent Sports and Letv Sports have entered into the domain with money, ambition and technology.

Additionally, the strong competition among these emerging online streamers have really pushed up the prices for broadcast rights for a range of international major sports events which include NBA, La Liga etc. And with deals for the rights to air these events have been sealed for the next few seasons, the CSL could be a remaining module for the mentioned platforms to compete.

There is also an argument that all the contenders are placing their bets on the potential and possibility of CSL which engages the fans more and can still be empowered by the soccer reform launched by Chinese government.

But who will win the chance to make the investment will never be revealed until late Friday. The thing we know about is, China’s richest man, the owner of Infront Media, Wang Jianlin shared his view with Chinese media that they are interested to bid for the CSL deal but will not spend recklessly.

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