31 October 2015, Beijing, China: Le Sports, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), and Lagardère Sports announced today that Le Sports has been awarded the exclusive media rights in China for AFC’s portfolio of 2017 to 2020 events. This groundbreaking deal marks the first time a new media company has been granted such extensive privileges and is a feather in the cap for the Chinese firm which currently owns media rights for over 200 sporting events and an average of 10,000 matches. Dato’ Windsor John, Acting General Director of AFC, also attended the press conference and announced the cooperation.
Le Sports’ agreement with AFC includes all-media broadcasting and signal production rights for over 1,000 matches across 12 events at both the club and national team level from 2017 to 2020. These include the final round of qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup as well several men’s and women’s youth events at national team level and the AFC’s two major futsal events. AFC’s flagship events – the FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, AFC Asian Cup and AFC Champions League – are watched by billions of fans across the world. Le Sports had successfully outbid other competitors in the tender for the exclusive media rights in China.
Dato’ Windsor John, the Acting General Secretary of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), said, “The attraction and quality of football in Asia both at national team and club level is clear for everyone to see and we are delighted that such an innovative and exciting company as Le Sports is our exclusive media rights partner in China.”
“China is a key and fast developing market not just for football but for all international sports and to have such a profile and presence in the country will be vital to the growth of the game not only within China but also across the continent.”
Le Sports is China’s leading media platform for Asian football. It has aired major AFC events such as the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 as well as various popular Asian domestic league matches.
“I would like to extend my sincere thanks to AFC for granting Le Sports with the exclusive media rights in China for AFC’s portfolio of events. Your trust means a lot to us. We are confident about taking the influence of Asian football in China to a whole new level. In addition to providing Chinese football fans with the most exciting games, we also hope that people from China’s football industry can learn something from the large portfolio of events so as to further enhance the level of Chinese football.” said Lei Zhenjian, CEO of Le Sports.
Lagardère Sports, the AFC’s exclusive marketing and commercial partner, brokered the deal between Le Sports and AFC. Seamus O’Brien, the Executive Chairman of Lagardère Sports, Asia, said, “Digital media is increasingly becoming the preferred platform for fans to watch football and engage in real-time discussion and updates – we’re seeing this upward trend particularly in China where internet usage continues to grow at a breakneck pace. As a frontrunner in the digital media space, Le Sports is the perfect partner for AFC to bring Asian football to the next level.”
This acquisition coincides with a recent success for football in China after Guangzhou Evergrande won the 2013 AFC Champions League while China also reached the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015.
Guangzhou Evergrande will also face Al Ahli of the United Arab Emirates in next month’s AFC Champions League final, while China are currently looking to qualify for the final round of qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and as well as the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.
According to Liu Jianhong, Chief Content Officer of Le Sports, the company will be engaging in further discussions with traditional broadcasters and other new media partners to broaden the viewership of AFC events in China.
In addition to acquiring all-media broadcasting rights, Le Sports will also lead in signal production for AFC games in China. Le Sports’ signal production team received strong recognition for the high-quality broadcast of the International Champions Cup (ICC) China Matches in July this year, thanks to Le Sports’ 360° panorama and heat map signal capabilities which offered fans a refreshing viewing experience. The company also plans to implement more novel broadcasting techniques to bring added value to media consumers.