ESPN Inks Deal With Tencent to Produce, Distribute Digital Content in China
Chinese tech giant Tencent and ESPN have reached an agreement in which ESPN content will be localized and exclusively distributed in China via Tencent’s digital platforms. Under the agreement, Tencent’s live sports coverage and digital products in China will now feature exclusive Chinese-language (Mandarin) ESPN content – a combination of original and localized content – initially focused on the NBA and international soccer, with the potential to expand to other sports over the course of the agreement.
“Tencent boasts a huge pool of users. Every single day, hundreds of millions of people watch streamed sports games and read sports news on Tencent. We’re really pleased to establish this relationship with ESPN, a world leading sports media group. It will accelerate Tencent’s development as a comprehensive and professional digital platform and set benchmarks for the Chinese sports media sector,” says SY Lau, Senior Executive Vice President of Tencent and President of its Online Media Group.
Beginning with the 2016 NBA Playoffs, ESPN experts will be on-site at five games per week to provide exclusive, live Chinese-language analysis as part of Tencent’s NBA coverage. ESPN will also provide a weekly NBA opinion and debate program for Tencent users.
“We are thrilled to collaborate with one of China’s most innovative companies, and our relationship with Tencent marks an exciting new era for ESPN’s global business. This agreement will help us serve millions of Chinese fans and bring our coverage of basketball, international soccer and other sports to them like never before,” says Russell Wolff, Executive Vice President, ESPN International.
To satisfy the growing user demand for popular international sports content, Tencent will also license from ESPN the exclusive, live digital rights in mainland China to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament, more than 100 regular season college basketball games and the X Games.
Caitlyn Chen, Corporate Vice President of Tencent, says, “We recognize each other’s strengths and expertise. Together, we will further enhance our sports media platforms by taking advantage of each other’s enriched portfolio of assets to better serve the growing demands of Chinese fans.”
Adds Mike Morrison, Vice President and General Manager, ESPN Asia Pacific, “We’re excited to expand ESPN’s reach in China. Chinese fans have great knowledge and passion for sports, and bringing together the strengths of Tencent and ESPN will mean they get the best content and coverage across world-class digital products.”
ESPN will have dedicated Chinese-speaking content experts and on-air talent to support the joint effort.
Tencent’s QQ Sports (Sports.qq.com), a large Chinese online sports portal, will help ESPN establish its most significant digital presence ever in China by launching an ESPN section. ESPN’s content will also be integrated across other QQ.com channels and sections.
ESPN will provide original Chinese-language (Mandarin) stories focused on the NBA and international soccer, as well as deliver a selection of its award-winning English-language NBA and soccer information and video to be translated and published on QQ Sports.
Adds Yuefeng Sam Xie, General Manager of Marketing and Business Development of Tencent Sports, “The combination of Tencent and ESPN will create more value among advertisers and across the industry thanks to complementary nature of their businesses. After years of evolution, China’s sports media is now at a crossroads and is ready to transform its traditional way of development. The collaboration between Tencent and ESPN will open an era of customization and innovation in China’s sports media sector.”