NBA promises free live games to LeSports Hong Kong subscribers left hanging after firm goes bust
US basketball league steps in after Chinese company with Hong Kong broadcasting rights shuts down its operation
The US National Basketball Association on Monday promised free online access to live game broadcasts for subscribers to streaming service LeSports HK, after the firm shut down 10 days ago leaving Hong Kong fans in the lurch.
The NBA issued a statement saying LeSports NBA subscribers could from noon on Tuesday until midday on April 20 apply for “complimentary access” codes with which to view content on the NBA website in English.
The codes will provide access to an NBA League Pass account for the remainder of the 2017-18 NBA season, including the play-offs and finals.
The current regular season began on October 18 and will end on April 12, after which the play-offs and NBA Finals will take place.
The NBA said the arrangement was “to demonstrate our commitment to our fans in Hong Kong”.
LeSports HK opened the first local 24-hour pay-TV channel for sports news in 2016. However, on March 15 it confirmed it was shutting down the operation and handing over its English Premier League football coverage to Now TV – another pay-TV service provider – operated by PCCW Media. It was unclear who would take over coverage of NBA games.
LeSports HK’s mainland Chinese parent company, LeEco, said it was in financial difficulty.
As of Monday Hong Kong’s consumer affairs watchdog had received 69 complaints about the closure.
LeSports HK posted the NBA statement on its Facebook page, and within 40 minutes the company had received 10 replies asking what arrangements would be made for subscribers to the English Premier League. The administrator of the Facebook page, a LeSports HK employee, said the NBA had been “conscientious” with its decision.
Two days before LeSports HK announced its closure, the company was issued with a winding-up petition in a Hong Kong court by an international sports broadcast rights company. According to High Court documents, the application sought to liquidate LeSports HK’s assets.
Local soccer fans signed up to the company’s English Premier League coverage have been left staring at blank screens since March 10.
Subscribers were promised two regular season matches every day for HK$599 per month, according to an advert posted online last November.
The company also rolled out a promotional plan last August allowing subscribers to watch the Premier League for an average monthly fee of HK$140.80.
In September 2016 LeSports HK announced it had the won the rights to more than 400 NBA matches each year from 2016 to 2021, at a cost of more than HK$1 billion.
It also successfully bid for the rights to broadcast three seasons of the Premier League, from 2016 to 2019, for a cool HK$3.1 billion.