Game livestreaming site Huya (NYSE: HUYA) has shelled out USD 310 million for broadcasting rights of League of Legends’ China competitive league until 2025, according to a document Huya filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in late April. Huya has the right to sublicense broadcasting rights to third parties.
The payment went to Tengjing Sports & Culture, a joint venture formed by Tencent (HKG: 0700) and Riot Games, the developer and publisher behind LoL. Tengjing owns China’s top-notch professional LoL league, League of Legends Pro League (LPL), among other e-sports leagues and events like League of Legends Development League, and the LPL All-Star Weekend series.
36Kr reported on Tuesday that another major video game livestreaming platform, Douyu, whose historic merger with Huya is undergoing antitrust inspection from regulators, is also a party in the deal. Tencent owns Riot Games and is the biggest shareholder of both Huya and Douyu.
Copyright transactions have become a major source of income for livestreaming platforms in recent years: internationally, industry analysis institute Newzoo expects media copyright and sponsorships to generate revenue to the tune of USD 833.6 million in 2021, accounting for more than 75% of the overall e-sports market.
The last e-sports copyright acquisition that sparked heated debate was Bilibili’s (NASDAQ: BILI) late-2019 USD 113 million purchase of a three-year exclusive agreement with Riot Games to broadcast the LoL World Championship in China. The price tag was nearly half of Bilibili’s USD 288.4 million revenue for 2019.
In 2020, Bilibili shared the broadcasting rights with Douyu, Huya, and Tencent’s eGame. Bilibili “can’t bear the cost by itself,” said a former Newzoo client manager who spoke to KrASIA. “They can’t make the money back. E-sports viewers are used to enjoying the games for free.
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This article is part of KrASIA’s “Key Stat” series, where KrASIA picks and presents the most significant figures of the day’s technology and business world.