The English Premier League announced Thursday that it has terminated its TV deal with PPTV, owned by the conglomerate Suning Holdings, in China:
The Premier League confirms that it has today terminated its agreements for #PL coverage in China with its licensee in that territory.
— Premier League Communications (@PLComms) September 3, 2020
While you might have read this and thought “good for them!” and that the Premier League was making a principled decision based on human rights concerns, it appears more likely at this time that this was a financial dispute.
In August, Daily Mail reported that Suning withheld a payment of £160million ($212 million) that had been due in March, and that the Premier League retaliated by turning down a three-year rights extension after their deal expired following the 2021-2022 season. Annually, Premier League’s deal was worth about $233 million per season which means the deal totaled about $700 million. SportBusiness says that PPTV had financial concerns dating back even further than the Covid-19 pandemic; for the Premier League, this was reportedly their second biggest international rights deal, after its deal that encompasses Sub-Saharan Africa.
So, this appears to be different than the entanglement the NBA finds itself in with China. After Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted in support of Hong Kong protesters fighting for democracy, China’s state-owned CCTV and the NBA’s streaming partner Tencent stopped airing their games. According to CNBC, Tencent eventually returned to showing some games that do not involve the Rockets. ESPN also published a bombshell story detailing child abuse described by eyewitnesses in league-branded basketball camps in the country amidst wider human rights atrocities.