The deal replaces one that the EPL canceled at the beginning of the month, after licensee PPTV failed to keep up license payments.
The English season has only just started, and Tencent will be able to play all 372 remaining matches live via its digital platforms WeChat, QQ.com, Tencent Video, Penguin Live App, Tencent News App, Tencent Sports App and Kan Dian. More than half the matches will be screened free of charge, while others will be available on Tencent Sports’ membership service.
The cost of the deal, and other terms, were not disclosed, though it appears that Tencent may have licensed the online rights only. “The Premier League will continue to explore opportunities for free-to-air broadcast coverage in China for the 2020/21 season,” the EPL said in its statement.
PPTV had agreed to pay $747 million for rights over three seasons. The deal was canceled after just once season, with PPTV having reportedly failed to make a $212 million stage payment. State-owned CCTV was the main free-to-air broadcaster in China, making use of what was believed to be a sub-license deal with PTV.
“Tencent Sports hopes to leverage its platforms and technology to bring the drama of Premier League matches to fans and share with them the passion and excitement of football,” said Ewell Zhao, Tencent Sports GM, in a statement. One sign of that is that clubs will be able to share short clips during matches to engage directly with their supporters in China.
Tencent will also launch an official Penguin Channel across Tencent’s content platforms, where fans will enjoy a daily content mix of videos and features about the Premier League competition, its clubs and players.
Tencent is one of the ten largest companies in the world. It has operations stretching from social media, to streaming and games.
PPTV is owned by Chinese commercial giant Suning Holdings, known in the West for buying majority shares in 2016 of the Italian soccer club Inter Milan. Its subsidiary PP Sports holds exclusive rights to four other major European leagues: La Liga, Serie A, the Bundesliga and Ligue 1.