The English Premier League, the world’s richest soccer championship, has terminated its massive $747 million (£564 million) TV rights contract with China’s PPTV two years early due to unpaid payments, it said Thursday.
The move takes effect immediately, meaning the Chinese streaming platform PPTV can no longer show live games.
The 2016 deal signed between the Premier League and PPTV was the League’s largest overseas TV deal ever at the time, and gave the Chinese firm rights to live content over three seasons from 2019 to 2022 through free-to-air and subscription distribution. The termination of the contract just one season in comes in the wake of British reports from August that the China side had failed to pay a $212 million installment due in March.
“The Premier League confirms that it has today terminated its agreements for Premier League coverage in China with its licensee in that territory,” the League said in a statement.
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.
League sources said that the termination was for financial, not political reasons, according to The Guardian. Nevertheless, the move comes amidst a backdrop of rising tensions between China and U.K. after the latter decided to ban use of 5G equipment made by Chinese national champion telecom firm Huawei earlier this year.