LeSports failed to pay us to broadcast FA Cup final in Hong Kong, claims rights distributor

MP & Silva says it offered company every opportunity to ‘comply with promises’ before giving rights to TVB for ‘symbolic fee’

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 May, 2017, 1:06pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 May, 2017, 1:21pm

The reason LeSports will not be broadcasting the English FA Cup final in Hong Kong is because it defaulted on a scheduled payment, the sports broadcasting rights company involved claimed.

LeTV, the television arm of troubled Chinese company LeEco, shocked Hong Kong football fans this week when it announced it would not be showing the game, citing “programme adjustments”. TVB has since stepped in to air the match.

“The only reason why LeTV didn’t broadcast the FA Cup Final is their payment default,” claimed a source at MP & Silva, a leading international media rights company.

“Despite having been granted several payment reductions and payment referrals, LeTV didn’t comply with promises they made in the last couple of months.

Relief for Hong Kong football fans as TVB steps in to ensure FA Cup final will be broadcast live

“In a last attempt to get access to the TV signal of the FA Cup Final, LeTV promised to deliver a bank guarantee, but failed to comply with this promise as well.

“In order to avoid the Hong Kong TV audience having to pay the price for LeTV’s failure, MP & Silva granted free-to-air rights to TVB for a symbolic fee.”

A spokesperson for LeSports in Hong Kong said the company had “no further comment or information” on the matter.

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LeSports’ move prompted anger among subscribers. The company said it would compensate affected users by offering them a three-month free subscription to their ‘Super Sports’ package.

Democratic Party lawmaker Andrew Wan has Siu-kin has called on the Hong Kong Customs to investigate whether LeTV was in violation of the Trades Descriptions Ordinance.

“This is not an isolated error,” said Wan. “[LeTV] has been ‘selling dog meat disguised with a goat’s head’ for a long time now.”

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LeSports announced on Friday that it had secured funding valuing the company at 24 billion yuan (US$3.5 billion).

Parent company LeEco has been suffering a cash crunch after rapidly expanding from online streaming into TV sets, smartphones, and even electric cars.

It laid off about 70 per cent of its US workforce last week, just days after founder Jia Yueting resigned as chief executive.

LeTV paid a remarkable US$400 million to broadcast the English Premier League in Hong Kong and has been snapping up TV rights all over the world.

But in February this year it was stripped of the rights to Asian Football Confederation matches after defaulting on a payment; it reportedly almost suffered the same fate over EPL matches in December.