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Premier League scores China broadcast deal with Tencent

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England's Premier League said on Thursday its shareholders had unanimously agreed to a broadcast deal in China for the 2020-21 season with digital media platform Tencent.

Financial terms were not disclosed for the deal, which replaces a $700 million contract with Chinese retail group Suning's PPLive Sports International that was terminated this month.

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The league confirmed that viewers in China will be able to watch all 372 remaining league matches on the streaming and news platforms of Tencent, a strategic partner of ESPN.

"We are excited to have agreed this partnership with Tencent ensuring our supporters in China can enjoy following Premier League action throughout this season," Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said.

"We and our clubs have an extremely passionate fanbase in China and are looking forward to working with the team at Tencent to engage with fans in new ways over the coming season."

Tencent will broadcast half of all the matches available for free in China, with the remaining fixtures available via a membership service.

"In collaboration with the Premier League, Tencent Sports hopes to leverage its platforms and technology to bring the drama of Premier League matches to fans and share with them the passion and excitement of football," Tencent Sports general manager Ewell Zhao said.

The league's previous deal with PPLive was struck during the peak of Chinese interest in international football and was due to expire in 2022.

The partnership ended abruptly after it was reported that the Chinese broadcasters had withheld payments due to the league in March.

The new agreement with Tencent will help Premier League clubs offset some of the financial losses caused by the coronavirus outbreak, which forced matches to be suspended for several months before the 2019-20 season resumed in June without spectators.

The league said it would continue to explore opportunities for free-to-air broadcast coverage in China for the current season.