Shanghai-based online entertainment platform Bilibili has reportedly spent RMB 800 million (USD 113 million) on a three-year exclusive agreement to broadcast the Riot Games’ League of Legends (LoL) World Championship in China, as the company continues its push on the e-sport sector while its net loss is widening.
The company, which is backed by both Tencent and Alibaba, has reportedly beat out rivals such as short-video app Kuaishou, and game-centric live-streaming top dogs Huya and Douyu, among others, to secure the deal, Chinese media Beijing News reported on Tuesday. According to the report, it was the first bidding process ever made for exclusive media rights for an e-sports event. Bilibili has not responded to 36Kr’s request for a comment.
Chinese tech giant Tencent is also the company behind California-based video game developer and e-sports tournament organizer Riot Games, a company mostly known for its multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game League of Legends, after completely acquiring the firm in 2015.
Bilibili, a video platform recognized for its ACG-focused (Anime, Comics, and Games) content, is seeking to leverage the game’s hyper-popularity in China to speed up monetization.
China will host the 10th annual LoL World Championship in 2020, with the final set to be held at the Shanghai Stadium. Other Chinese cities are also going to take part in hosting the tournament’s earlier stages, although specific locations are yet to be revealed. According to Business Insider, the tournament has drawn nearly 100 million viewers from around the world in the past edition, being the “closest thing to the Super Bowl in e-sports.”
The move is in line with the company’s recent efforts to further diversify its revenue streams and to gain an edge in the flourishing e-sports market, after already owning e-sports teams like Chinese League of Legends team Bilibili Gaming, and Overwatch League franchise Hangzhou Spark.
In the third quarter of 2019, Bilibili, which went public in Nasdaq last year, saw its net revenues grow by 72% on an annual basis to RMB 1.86 billion (USD 260.1 million), while its monthly active users hit 127.9 million.
Nevertheless, the company also booked a net loss of RMB 405.7 million (USD 56.8 million), up 64% year-on-year. It also disclosed that, as of September 30, the firm had cash and cash equivalents, time deposits, as well as short-term investments of RMB 8.4 billion (USD 1.19 billion)
Stats from gaming industry data provider CNG showed that the market volume of e-sports in China surpassed RMB 82.4 billion (USD 11.7 billion) in 2018, while it has already reached RMB 51.3 billion in the first six months of 2019.