Chinese TV channel countersues Premier League for $116m over broken contract

January 20 – In an escalation of a Covid-19 dispute, Chinese broadcaster PPLive Sports International has countersued the English Premier League for failing to live up to the terms of its contract. 

The Suning-owned sports broadcaster has asked for $116 million in its counterclaim, which was filed at London’s High Court last Wednesday. Last year, the TV rights contract between the Premier League and PPLive Sports collapsed, leading the English league to sue and claim they were entitled to $215 million after PPLSports Live failed to pay an instalment.

The Chinese broadcaster and the English Premier League had signed a deal for three seasons running until the end of the 2021-22 season for more than $700 million.

In March 2020, matches in the Premier League were suspended for three months because of the coronavirus pandemic and PPLive Sports withheld an instalment. At the restart, Premier League kick-off times were less favourable to Chinese audiences, the broadcaster argued. 

The 20 top-flight clubs had to pay £330 million in rebates to some of the league’s broadcast partners, but PPLive Sports and the Premier League failed to reach an agreement, leading to a legal dispute. 

“The Premier League seems to have adopted a double standard and treated a domestic UK broadcaster differently from a Chinese broadcaster,” PPLive Sports said in a statement to the Financial Times. “We have made our best efforts to reach a compromise, but we have been left with no choice but to take legal action.”

At present, Tencent is the Chinese rights holder. The group stepped in to secure a deal with the Premier League after the new season had kicked off.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1634933688labto1634933688ofdlr1634933688owedi1634933688sni@o1634933688fni1634933688