September 25 – UEFA has wasted no time securing its first media deals for its newly announced Nations League competition with China’s Super Sports Media stepping up to acquire exclusive digital media rights to the competition in China for the 2018-19 and 2020-21 editions of the competition.
The Nations League will replace the bulk of the international friendlies currently played in Europe with a competition format that will see the nations of similar ability play against each other more often.
The competition, beginning 2018, divides the 55 UEFA nations into four leagues with each league divided into three or four team groups. Each league will culminate with a semi-final and final with the winner of each securing a spot at UEFA 2020.
No value has been given for the Super Sports rights acquisition which significantly expands its coverage of international football. The company already holds the rights to the Premier League.
The Nations League draw takes place next January.
LeSports ownership changes
Super Sports rival LeSports, which has struggled to cope with its debt after overpaying for TV rights fees, has transferred a 30.66% share in the company to a group of wealthy investors.
The shares were held by Jia Yueting who controlled LeSports through Lele Hudong Sports before this agreement. Jia ran into trouble with LeEco’s mobile phone and auto businesses which had a knock-on effect for the LeSports business. LeEco Holdings has now paid off more than RMB 1 billion ($151 million) in media rights fees for LeSports, but there still remains a debt of RMB 2.5 billion ($377 million) to be cleared.
The new money will cover existing debt to LeSports, and provide on-going finance for the business.
Allied to the new money will be a strategy rethink for LeSports with new media business to adopt a different model through alliances and partnerships as well as focussing on data technology opportunities.
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