Details about LeTV’s coverage of English Premier League in Hong Kong remain thin on the ground

It’s unclear why Premier League fans in HK would want to switch over to the mainland company for next season

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 December, 2015, 9:01am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 December, 2015, 10:34am

LeTV, China’s jack-of-all-new-media-trades online content streamer and trendy gadget manufacturer, held a typically bombastic press conference at the Intercontinental Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui last week, where it was promised big things would be revealed.

This is the firm, if you’ve forgotten, that came almost out of nowhere with a US$400 million bid to snatch the Premier League rights out of PCCW and NowTV’s talons in September.

A big name in mainland China, they were little known in Hong Kong before that – but splashing that kind of cash certainly got them on everyone’s radar here.

Yet details of their broadcasting plans were non-existent, a little worrying for us Premier League addicts wondering how to get a fix from next season.

At the Intercontinental, perhaps 200 people packed out the ballroom for a glitzy presentation, where those details, we hoped, would finally be revealed.

Yapp Hung-fai, star goalkeeper for Kitchee and Hong Kong, and veteran TV commentator Peter Wong Hing-kwei were brought on stage to lend their footballing seals of approval, while the film stars present – obligatory to any self-respecting Hong Kong press event of course – were Stephen Fung Tak-lun and Karena Lam Ka-yan.

But apart from a rather complicated price structure, those details as to where, how, when we can actually watch the games proved elusive as ever.

LeTV’s Premier League package will cost HK$1690 for the season (HK$169 per month), or HK$597 for three months, or HK$299 for 1 month. But you need a device to watch it on. You can buy their streaming box for HK$499 and get six months free. Buy one of their phones or TVs and you get from three to 10 months free. You’ll also need a LeTV membership (HK$990).

Crystal clear?

I may actually have got some of the details wrong because, as we’ll see, information in English is non-existent on LeTV’s website, but this is the best I could parse from their (English) press release.

I currently help make PCCW’s Richard Li Tzar-kai a little richer by forking out HK$484 per month for sport on NowTV – though, as has been established, I’m an idiot and could probably be paying less.

A quick browse on NowTV’s website reveals that I’m missing out on free NowTV and Premier League logo-emblazoned bedding (optimistically suggested retail price: HK$998) by not signing up for their Super Sports Pack now; the missus is certain to be delighted by that when I collect it from some bizarre mini warehouse on the 11th floor of an anonymous tower block somewhere.

Now have a basic offering for HK$168 a month but – free duvet cover notwithstanding – LeTV looks a comparable or better deal.

But is it? On Now, I can watch every single game that’s on at the weekend, albeit as a plastic Chelsea fan I generally only watch their match.

If I somehow unaccountably got bored of Sunderland-Watford on Saturday night, I could have switched over to the breathtaking delights of West Ham-Stoke. You can also pause and rewind live games on Now, and record them.

There is no English information on LeTV’s website, making it difficult for a non-Chinese reading barbarian like myself fully to weigh up the pros and cons of their offering

I also get La Liga, Bundesliga, Europa League, tennis and golf, not to mention godforsaken pursuits such as cricket and American sports. I rarely watch these, but it’s reassuring to know they’re there, and in theory adds value over LeTV’s offering.

There is no English information on LeTV’s website, making it difficult for a non-Chinese reading barbarian like myself fully to weigh up the pros and cons of their offering. Their PR people did quickly respond to questions, however.

They say an English website is under development. It will not be possible to pause and rewind live games.

To other questions – will every game be available, will it be possible to record games, will more leagues (Spain, Germany, etc) be added to the package, and will LeTV be doing anything to support local soccer by sponsoring teams, etc – the answer was the same: “Details will be announced in coming future”.

Thankfully, NowTV have come to an agreement with LeTV to continue screening the Prem for the next three seasons, meaning any decision to switch providers can be made in the coming future.

LeTV seem to be using their Premier League rights to boost sales of their phones and tellies. Unless those crush offerings from rival manufacturers, which looks unlikely, my subscription will continue to top up Mr Li’s pension pot. Better the obscenely rich devil you know