ESPN and Tencent Team up in Exclusive Digital Partnership in China

February 3, 2016

American sports broadcaster ESPN has signed a multi-year strategic partnership deal with Chinese online platform Tencent.

The agreement will see sports games and Mandarin-language ESPN content localised and exclusively distributed in China across Tencent’s digital platforms.

It is initially focused on NBA basketball and international soccer, and includes the potential to expand to other sports over the course of the agreement.

The 2016 NBA playoffs in April will be the first games to feature ESPN analysis in Chinese on Tencent’s digital channels.

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.

The new partners say the agreement “will help ESPN establish its most significant digital presence ever in China.”

Tencent has also acquired the exclusive, live digital rights in mainland China to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament (known as “March Madness”,) more than 100 regular season college basketball games and the X Games.

“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,” said Russell Wolff, executive VP, ESPN International.

Sam Xie Yuefeng, GM of marketing and business development at Tencent Sports said: “This relationship with ESPN will accelerate Tencent’s development as a comprehensive and professional digital platform and set benchmarks for the Chinese sports media sector.”

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