LeEco says interrupted English Premier League coverage not down to reported ‘default’ in broadcast rights payments

The 30-minute suspension in the broadcast of six live games on Monday night was due to a technical fault, the Chinese video-streaming firm insists

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 December, 2016, 7:10pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 December, 2016, 7:10pm

LeEco, the Chinese video-streaming firm, has insisted that an interruption in its English Premier League football coverage on Monday night was nothing to do with recent media reports that the company has fallen behind with its payments for the broadcast rights.

A spokesman apologised to football fans for the temporary suspension when screening six matches late on Monday night because of a technical problem. The system error was fixed by technicians within 30 minutes, he said.

“LeSports HK [LeEco’s Hong Kong internet sports unit] apologises to affected users, and this was a sudden technical incident. As the English Premier League broadcasting platform in Hong Kong, LeSports HK will continue to bring EPL matches to users until 2019,” the spokesman said.

The temporary suspension in coverage came amid Chinese media reports saying that LeEco, the cash-strapped internet giant, had defaulted in paying for the broadcasting rights in the mainland. The reports did not mention Hong Kong.

LeSports HK will continue to bring EPL matches to users until 2019
LeEco spokesman

The spokesman said there were no changes in the broadcasting rights in either Hong Kong or the mainland.

Frustrated users took to LeSports’ Facebook page to express their displeasure, with many requesting at least a month’s free subscription as compensation for the interrupted broadcast. Several users also questioned LeSports’ service, pointing out that it was “unacceptable” since Now TV, a pay-TV service operated by PCCW that also broadcasts EPL matches, faced no interruptions to its broadcast.

LeEco announced last September that its sports unit had won the rights to show the world’s most famous soccer league for three years. Owners of LeEco’s set-top boxes and smart television can watch the games by paying a fee on a monthly or yearly basis.

Concerns overs LeEco’s capital condition have been mounting, with reports saying that the company had defaulted on payments to its suppliers of smartphone parts while it has been downsizing its staff to cut costs.

LeEco last week laid off 60 employees in its Hong Kong office as it looks to restructure and optimise its operations following reports of an impending cash crunch last month.

The news of the retrenchment round comes just weeks after the company said it planned to cut about 10 per cent of its staff at its sports video-streaming subsidiary LeSports. Mainland media reports suggested that the retrenchment number was closer to 20 per cent, or 200 of LeSports’ approximately 1,000-strong headcount.