Chinese live streaming platform Migu Sports—a subsidiary of China’s biggest telecommunication company China Mobile—recently signed a three-year broadcasting/media rights deal with TJ Sports and Tencent for the League of Legends Pro League (LPL), League of Legends World Championship, Mid-Season Invitational (MSI), Honor of Kings competition the King Pro League (KPL), and Peacekeeper Elite’s Peace Elite League (PEL).
Final terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The deal includes Tencent’s three major esports titles, League of Legends, Honor of Kings, and Peacekeeper Elite (the Chinese version of PUBG Mobile). Sources familiar with details of the deal tell The Esports Advocate that it is not exclusive and is valued at more than $5.8M USD (￥40M) a year.
In 2019, China-based live streaming platform Bilibili paid $113M (￥800M) for a three-year deal to secure the exclusive media rights to the League of Legends World Championship, MSI, and All-Star event in Mainland China. Unfortunately, the global pandemic became the Black Swan event of those three years for esports and traditional sports due to local and national safety protocols and restrictions (China and its five cities lost the opportunity to host Worlds 2021 in China due to the government’s pandemic control policies).
Bilibili’s financial situation is bleak at the moment; the company posted a loss of $187M (￥1.28B), $435M (￥3B), and $986M (￥6.8B) between 2019-2021, respectively, according to the company’s financial reports. This financial trouble likely made renewing a deal with Bilibili difficult for TJ Sports and Riot Games in China. It should be noted that Bilibili’s deal included distribution rights, which means it was allowed to resell the broadcasting rights to other live streaming platforms such as DouYu and Huya to further monetize the deal—Migu’s deal does not include distribution rights.
TEA has also learned that Huya signed a $310M, five-year deal with TJ Sports for the exclusive media rights to the LPL, in parallel with Migu’s LPL deal. TEA has reached out to Huya and Riot Games for comment, but they did not respond to our request for comments as of this writing.
A source close to Riot Games (who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak on the matter) told TEA that the reason behind this is that “Migu and Huya are in different segments. Migu belongs to the sports live-streaming platform, and Huya belongs to the gaming live-streaming platform. So there is no conflict that Huya owns LPL’s exclusive media rights, and Migu can broadcast LPL.”
Migu is the Chinese media rights partner of multiple international sports events including the FIFA World Cup, NBA, English Premier League, and UFC. Content on the Migu platform is under a paid subscriber-based system, which means it might be a hard sell for esports audiences who don’t typically pay for content on other platforms such as Twitch, DouYu, Huya, and Bilibili.
James Fudge contributed to this article.