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LeEco sports unit reaches deal over unpaid English soccer rights bill
December 28, 2016 / 3:24 AM / 9 months ago

LeEco sports unit reaches deal over unpaid English soccer rights bill

LeEco's new Le Pro3 phone is on display during a press event in San Francisco, California, U.S. October 19, 2016. RETUERS/Beck Diefenbach/Files

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - The sports unit of cash-strapped Chinese technology giant LeEco will continue to broadcast English Premier League soccer games over the New Year after reaching a compromise with the rights holders over unpaid fees.

LeSports signed an agreement in July to make all 380 matches over the 2016-17 English Premier League (EPL) season available online to its subscribers via its on-demand platforms.

But domestic media reported this week that the service could be under threat, with the firm already forced to cut 10 percent of its staff and restructure its business as a result of a cash crunch.

LeSports owed as much as $30 million in payments to the Beijing-based Super Sports Media Group, which holds exclusive rights to broadcast EPL games in China, said Ye Rong, a spokeswoman for Super Sports.

Ye said the two sides came to an agreement on Tuesday evening, allowing LeSports to continue streaming live games over the new year period.

LeSports had started to pay back the $30 million but the repayments would only be completed in full until before the Chinese new year at the end of next month.

“In order to protect the stability of the sports industry and the stability of the LeSports company, Supersports has made a huge concession and compromise on the payment,” she said.

LeEco did not immediately respond to comment when contacted by Reuters.

LeEco has been expanding aggressively in a range of businesses including online entertainment, electric and driverless cars and smartphones.

But the firm’s billionaire chief executive, Jia Yueting, said in a letter to staff last month that the conglomerate had expanded too quickly and was now facing cash shortages.

Reporting by Jackie Cai and David Stanway; Editing by Sam Holmes

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