Plagued by complaints, Hong Kong pay-TV channel LeSports closes over unpaid rent
Embattled streaming company faces legal action to liquidate its assets, while customers fear subscription fees may be forfeited
The Hong Kong-based sports streaming arm of cash-starved mainland Chinese conglomerate LeEco closed on Thursday night because of overdue rent.
LeSports HK confirmed its shutdown amid other problems – the Consumer Council revealed it also received 30 subscription-related complaints against the troubled company.
Earlier on the same day, an unnamed editor from LeSports HK revealed on its social media page that it was his last day on the job, sparking concerns that the company would cease operations. “Thank you for supporting sports programmes with Cantonese commentaries,” the editor wrote. “God willing, we will meet again.”
According to marketing manager Bryan She, who later confirmed the closure and attributed it to overdue rent, LeSports HK had about 100 staff members working at its Tsuen Wan office a day before the shutdown, compared with 150 last year.
Hong Kong was the first target market of LeSports HK’s pay-TV channel in 2016.
On Tuesday, the company was issued with a winding-up petition by an international sports broadcast rights company. According to High Court documents, the application was to liquidate LeSports HK’s assets.
The legal action came after local soccer fans who had subscribed to the company’s English Premier League coverage were left staring at blank screens since Saturday.
The Consumer Council said it received about 30 complaints against LeSports HK as of Wednesday, with consumers fearing they would not be able to recoup their subscription fees if the business closed down.
The consumer watchdog added that some users said they had called the company repeatedly but did not succeed in resolving the matter.
“If you paid at one go with credit cards, it is possible to apply for a refund with the bank,” Consumer Council chief executive Gilly Wong Fung-han, referring to credits from the unused service.
Speaking on a radio programme on Friday morning, Wong said it would be up to the banks to decide if they would grant the refunds, but this could be one way to reduce losses for LeTV customers.
English Premier League coverage will go to Now TV – a pay-TV service provider in Hong Kong operated by PCCW Media – which was sharing broadcast rights with LeSports HK. It is not clear which company will take over its coverage of NBA basketball matches.
On its official Facebook account, LeSports HK said it was the “end of the match” as it thanked its supporters.
It also called on people to continue to support local sports, adding that perhaps in the near future, some of its programmes could be relaunched on other platforms.