BEIJING — Le Eco, the Chinese group formerly known as Le TV, has picked up broadcast rights in Hong Kong to the 2018 World Cup soccer tournament. But it is not yet clear how the group will screen the matches in the territory.
The group said that it has acquired rights to all FIFA matches from 2016 to 2018, including the World Cup. It did not disclose how much it had paid for the rights.
Rights to live soccer matches – especially for the biggest championships and the English League — are among the most contested content on Asian TV as the games are capable of generating pay-TV subscriptions and VoD usage. While pay-TV operators would like to show the matches only to paying clients, governments have sometimes intervened to make viewing more widely available. For the 2014 soccer World Cup in Brazil, free-to-air network TVB won the rights for Hong Kong. Some 22 matches were shown free of charge, others were shown only on pay services.
Le Eco previously acquired rights to the English Premier League soccer for the current season. It then struck a deal with local pay-TV leader PCCW (operating NowTV and Viu) to rebroadcast the matches. Le Eco also offers the matches through its own portal, and the smart TVs and smartphones that it sells.
For the 2018 event its options are more open as there will likely be several new free and online broadcasters in the territory.
The group changed its name earlier this week, in order to replace the notion of television with ecosystem. Like other Chinese groups, Le Eco is pursuing a strategy of vertical and horizontal integration that takes its clients from content production and distribution, through ride sharing, to hardware. Le Eco is even readying the launch of an electric car.
“The current upgrade of the Le Ecosystem brand means that LeEco is looking beyond the Chinese domestic market to compete with global Fortune 500 giants and is ready to make disruptive changes on the global scale,” it said at a ‘global brand upgrade’ event this week.
“The word ‘TV’ has been eliminated from all sub-ecosystem logos, showing that LeEco has fully grown from a video website in 2004 into a full-featured “eco world” integrating Platform, Content, Device and Application. LeEco also announced the name change of Letv.com to Le.com, the adoption of its new global top-level domain ‘le.com’.”