Manchester United strike deal to make MUTV available in China
The race to attract Chinese fans to Premier League clubs has taken a new twist after Manchester United signed a deal to show its MUTV channel in the world's most populated country.
United's rivals Manchester City last month sold a stake in the club to a Chinese consortium, in the belief that their partners will unlock the vast potential for new supporters, and United have now announced their own deal with a Chinese company, though this only covers broadcast rights and not any shareholding.
There is growing interest in the Premier League in parts of the Far East. LeTV has paid 400million dollars for the 2016-19 Premier League rights in Hong Kong - double the value of the previous three-year deal.
The MUTV deal is with internet operator Sina Sports for exclusive rights in China to broadcast the the 24-hour channel, including mobile rights. The channel shows as-live coverage and highlights of all United games and coverage of manager Louis van Gaal's weekly press conference.
United claim they have 108 million followers in China and Arthur Wei, senior vice president of Sina Sports, said: "Manchester United has deservedly won over 100 million fans in China and we are excited to see how the club will grow its following through this historic launch. We anticipate this will make great strides to change the way China watches and understands the game of football."
United's group managing director Richard Arnold said: "This is an important and exciting partnership, not only for Manchester United but also for our Chinese fans.
"MUTV broadcasting in China is not only a first for Manchester United, but also a first for any 24/7 dedicated Premier League club channel. We couldn't have found a better partner to work with on this than Sina Sports."