Broadcasting rights to English Premier League football matches are expected to generate GBP212 million (HK$3.36 billion) in international revenue for the League during the 2007/08 season - a sevenfold growth since the 1999/2000 season. 'And roughly half, or GBP100 million of that international revenue will come from the Asia region,' said Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League in an interview last week. 'Asia is one of the fastest-growing international markets for the Premier League broadcasts,' he added. Broadcasts of Premier League football matches reached more than 507 million homes from more than 204 countries in the 2005/06 season. The League, which features such world-renowned teams as Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, is one of the most popular sporting events beamed to audiences around the world. The Premier League held its biannual Asia Trophy Cup in Hong Kong last week when Liverpool, Portsmouth and Fulham played. The tournament attracted about 80,000 spectators over two days. Mr Scudamore was appointed Premier League chief executive in 1999. Over the past two years he has been responsible for negotiating broadcasting and sponsorship contracts worth more than GBP1.6 billion, and sees a bright future for the League in the mainland. 'I believe the mainland will be an important market for the Premier League and over the next three, five and 10-year periods we will have different strategies in the region. Apart from China, I think the Middle East is also one of the new markets we need to focus on,' he said. Mr Scudamore said Premier League rights helped broadcasters expand their businesses while competition for them increases steadily. For the coming three seasons, both Hong Kong and the mainland will have new broadcasters carrying Premier League matches. In Hong Kong, PCCW's Now TV successfully won the exclusive right to the matches from i-Cable Communications. In the mainland, the games will shift from free coverage on ESPN-Star to pay-per-view broadcasting in a rights deal won by Guangdong-based WinTV. 'This year we are selling rights to PCCW and other broadcasters in response to technology transformation. PCCW is delivering matches mainly through broadband TV, but also on other platforms such as mobile phones. This arrangement helps us deal with media convergence and it's a big step for us,' Mr Scudamore said. Mainland Premier League fans will now need to pay for the right to watch matches after enjoying several years of free service from state-owned Chinese Central Television in co-operation with ESPN Star Sports.