Aug 07, 2018 (China Knowledge) - Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent are recognized as China's top three tech giants—the so-called "BAT". Baidu-backed online video portal Iqiyi announced on Monday that it had inked a deal with Super Sports Media Inc. to set up a joint venture specialized in sports streaming, kicking off even fiercer competition among BATs for dominant market shares in sports businesses.
Iqiyi is expected to grab streaming rights for 2018/2019 English Premier League soccer with the founding of new joint venture. Increasing costs for purchasing copyrights of series and entertainment TV shows, and attempt to absorb new subscribers are two dominant drivers for Iqiyi to shift focus to sports streaming business.
According to a recent report by Iqiyi, it has spent nearly RMB 4.7 billion (USD 690 million) on content in Q2, up 47% YoY, accounting for 77% of total costs. Against the backdrop of across-the-board rising content spends, the once unacceptable prices of sports copyrights seem less forbidding.
Sports streaming will also help absorb new subscribers, especially male users. Statistics provided by QuestMobile shows that Youku's daily active users (DAV) hit record 100 million in June thanks in part to its digital broadcast of the 2018 World Cup.
Major streaming sites have pumped an increasing amount of money to win sports streaming rights since 2014. Ahead of Iqiyi's move to tap into sports streaming market, Alibaba-owned Youku won Chinese digital streaming rights to the 2018 World Cup. Tencent, the first mover of BAT to provide exclusive sports broadcast services, has held the rights to live stream NBA and CBA game series.
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