Ti'ao Power has beaten rival bidders to take the production and broadcast rights to China's top domestic soccer league, the Chinese Super League (CSL), between 2016 to 2020 for RMB¥8 billion (US$1.25 billion).
The deal is the biggest ever in Chinese soccer, even outstripping the US$1 billion paid by Super Sports for the English Premier League rights in 2012. Ti’ao will pay RMB¥1 billion for each of the first two years of its five-year deal, doubling that amount for the final three.
Although domestic soccer is very popular in China, the deal is something of a gamble for Ti’ao, who will be banking on the CSL’s status increasing significantly over the next five years.
Among the other bidders for the rights package was CCTV, which has been a long-serving broadcaster of the CSL via its CCTV5 sports channel, and would have expected to renew its agreement. CCTV has already seen much of its dominance in the sports broadcast market threatened this year by the emergence of internet-based over-the-top services like Tencent Sports, Sina Sports, and LeTV.