China's EPL fans must now pay US$24 per month

China's 30 million English Premier League fans will now have to pay 188 yuan (US$24) per month or 1,880 yuan for the entire year to watch matches starting from August. The 40,000-subscriber-strong, WinTV run by state-owned Guangdong Provincial Television, won the broadcast rights over six other bidders by an offer of US$50 million for three seasons, Song Zheng, Tiansheng's CEO, said as quoted by Beijing-based Star Daily.

"We cut the quoted price by half of what the commission wanted, which was US$100 million. But our offer was still US$15 million higher than ESPN, our closest rival," Song said.

When ESPN held the 2001-2006 rights it subcontracted broadcasting in China to Central Television Station and other free-to-air domestic TV stations and Song admits "it's hard to change Chinese audiences' behavior." However the company is "still confident in our future market," he said.

"The fans will have to endure the pain of the change. Let's say goodbye to cheap Premier League," he later told the US magazine, Variety. WinTV will also provide coverage on mobile devices and the Internet along with live TV. "Fans can enjoy the games in various convenient ways," he said. "There's only one premise - pay."

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