On Tuesday, Tencent Holdings Limited, Asia’s most valuable company, has announced it reached an agreement with Major League Baseball (MLB), to live stream games and highlight programs in China.
Tencent is a leading provider of comprehensive Internet Services in China; it plans to support and broadcast MLB developmental events to help grow the sport of baseball in China.
The tech giant will be streaming 125 games all throughout the season on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Even more, the All-Star Game, postseason games, and the World Series will be streamed, as well as a series of MLB highlight shows, MLB video clips, and a Chinese version of This Week in Baseball.
“As MLB continues to expand the participation, viewing and engagement of baseball in China, it is critical to partner with the best organizations in the country to form mutually beneficial co-operations,” said Jim Small, MLB Vice President, Asia Pacific.
Last season, MLB and Facebook agreed to stream games every Friday. The melding of television broadcasting and streaming via the Internet and social media platforms can be seen as a money grab or sign of the times. Younger demographics prefer smartphones and tablets instead of television to consume sports and entertainment.
The partnership between MLB and Tencent is the latest in a series of streaming deals that the Internet company has struck with major professional sports leagues in recent years. The National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), and National Hockey League (NHL) also have deals with Tencent.
In 2015, NBA and Tencent agreed to a five-year partnership, worth a reported US $500 million. This was the NBA’s largest international partnership to date. So far, the results have seen a 66% increase in viewership, according to Mailman’s 2017 NBA Red Card report.
It will be interesting to see how the deal with MLB increases the reach of America’s national pastime in China and which team will be the fan favorite. My guess is it will be the New York Yankees, but as a fan I am jaded.