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The Grammy Awards will be beamed live into China for the first time ever next month, thanks to a new deal between the Recording Academy and Chinese tech and media company LeEco.
LeEco, formerly known as LeTV, will live-stream the awards show, taking place Feb. 15, via its nascent LeMusic subsidiary. The company says it is working on various strategies to localize the U.S. music show for the Chinese audience, including sending a Chinese broadcast team and several A-list Hong Kong and Chinese pop stars to participate in the red carpet.
“We’re opening our entire ecosystem and more than 53 million daily users to the world’s biggest music award show,” said Eric Mika, senior vice president of open ecosystems, strategic alliances and partnerships at LeEco.
LeEco has struck a succession of rights deals recently, as it works to solidify a reputation as a premier online destination for international live entertainment in China. LeSports, the company’s budding sports brand, recently acquired exclusive rights to stream Major League Baseball and Wimbledon in China, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as Hong Kong streaming rights for Barclays Premier League soccer. The Grammy’s deal marks its first move into live awards shows.
“We’re in the game to set a new path,” Mika told THR by phone. “We’re not only going to acquire and co-produce; we want to make sure these rights are marketed properly in China, to create brands that resonate with a market they haven’t been able to reach before,” he added.
Le Holdings, the Chinese conglomerate that controls LeEco’s various businesses — which span consumer TVs, smartphones, virtual reality tech, film production, streaming video, music, electric cars and more — has been making bold moves across sectors in an attempt to establish itself as a globally integrated company. Chinese billionaire and company CEO Jia Yueting established LeTV (now LeEco) in 2004.
LeEco’s music subsidiary was launched in March 2015. The company is working to build a vertically integrated service, producing and acquiring original music, videos and live events, and then delivering that content through the native applications on its smart phones, smart TVs and VR headsets.
The film sector is a good example of the company’s ambition. Le Vision Pictures USA signed several sizable international deals at the American Film Market in Los Angeles last November. It unveiled a slate of 10 English language tentpoles, acquired Chinese distribution rights to Liongate’s upcoming fantasy epic Gods of Egypt, and signed a development deal to adapt six Chinese graphic novels into films. In China, Le Vision Pictures has co-produced and distributed the hit Tiny Times franchise, Zhang Yimou’s period epic Coming Home, and The Bullet Vanishes. Its next major release will be Zhang’s The Great Wall, starring Matt Damon and co-produced with Thomas Tull’s Legendary Entertainment and China Film Group.
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