Justice Fraser ruled on a dispute between English soccer’s top flight and Suning-owned PPLive Sports International, which is based in the Hong Kong Special Administration Region of China, on 11th January, following a hearing in November.
The Premier League terminated its deal with PP Sports in September 2020, just a year into the three-season Chinese rights deal, saying it was owed two instalment payments totalling nearly UK£157 million. The first payment was originally due in March 2020, two weeks before the 2019/20 season was interrupted by the pandemic.
The judge ruled in the league’s favour, with Justice Fraser confirming that the claimant was entitled to a “summary judgment” – without a trial.
He said summary judgments are granted when a judge concludes a defendant has “no real prospect” of defending a claim. The judge concluded that “none of the defences advanced” by PP Sports had anything other than ”fanciful prospects of success”.
The broadcast partnership signed in 2016 by the Premier League with PP Sports was worth in excess of UK£564 million (US$767 million) – 12 times more than previous broadcast partner Super Sports Media were paying.
The deal gave the PPTV streaming service rights to stream all 380 Premier League games per season in China and was the league’s largest overseas TV deal.
Following the collapse of the PP Sports partnership, the Premier League agreed a stopgap one-season streaming rights deal with Chinese digital giant Tencent covering the 2020/21 campaign.
In July last year the league struck an exclusive four-year broadcast partnership with the iQiyi Sports streaming platform that expires after the 2024/25 season. Subsequently, iQiyi has sublicensed non-exclusive streaming rights to the China Mobile telecommunications firm, meaning live matches will air on the Migu streaming platform for the duration of the contract.
The previous deal with Tencent and the new arrangement with iQiyi are worth dramatically less on a per-season basis than the PP Sports contract but, according to the Athletic, the Premier League is ‘very pleased’ with the High Court ruling as it brings revenue close to what it was expecting from the original broadcast partnership.