The Premier League has agreed a major new TV rights deal in China, worth up to £560m - ten times more than its current contract with the country.
The three-year deal with video streaming service PPTV will be the league's most lucrative overseas broadcast sale on a per-season basis, overtaking a six-year agreement with American network NBC.
The Premier League is seeking to cash in on China’s push to become a superpower in the rapidly expanding global football business. President Xi Jinping said he aimed to make the country a major player by 2030 and ultyimately the biggest sports economy in the world.
The nation has invested billions of dollars to develop grassroots football academies, brought high-profile players and managers into China from overseas, and is buying stakes in clubs such as Manchester City an Atletico Madrid.
PPTV is owned by Chinese retailer Suning, which earlier this year bought a 70 per cent stake in Italian football club Inter Milan. The company also paid $270 million for rights to show Spanish football’s top tier, La Liga.
The Premier League has seen television revenues rise rapidly around the globe in recent years. In the UK, Sky last year agreed to pay £4.2 billion to show 126 live English Premier League matches a season from 2016 to 2019 - a 70 per cent increase on the last deal.
But there are recent signs the UK market is slowing down, with viewing figures 12 per cent lower than last year, increasing the importance of overseas markets. Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch said the latest rights deal was close to the limit of what broadcasters would pay.
The China contract will give some certainty to clubs and is the latest indication that the huge growth in overseas TV income hasn’t run out of steam. The league now brings in almost £3 billion per year from non-UK sources.
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