MLB signs new Chinese digital deal with Tencent

Multi-year partnership sees media company stream 125 games a season in China.

by Tom Bassam

MLB signs new Chinese digital deal with Tencent

Major League Baseball (MLB) and Tencent have formed a new strategic multi-year partnership to live stream action from the pre-eminent North American baseball competition in China.

As the official digital broadcasting partner of MLB in China, the Chinese internet services provider will exclusively live stream 125 games, including MLB premium events, on Tencent PC, mobile and over-the top (OTT) platforms.

Tencent’s schedule will launch with Super Baseball Week, five consecutive days of games featuring the likes of the Houston Astros, the New York Yankees and the LA Dodgers.

The regular season slate will see Tencent stream games on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday as well as the All-Star Game, the Home Run Derby, and every game of the post-season and World Series. The digital platform will also broadcast a series of MLB highlight shows including MLB Best, MLB Video Clips and a Chinese version of This Week in Baseball.

Tencent vice president Caitlyn Chen said: “In recent years, baseball has developed rapidly in China, which wouldn’t happen without MLB’s dedicated promotion in China for over a decade. In the future, with the advantage of Tencent’s production and broadcasting, refined operational excellence and powerful social platforms, we will bring the attention to MLB and baseball in China to a new level.”

“As MLB continues to expand the participation, viewing and engagement of baseball in China, it is critical to partner with the best organisations in the country to form mutually beneficial co-operations,” said Jim Small, MLB vice president, Asia Pacific.

“We are thrilled to team with Tencent, the largest and best distributor of digital sports content in China and a company that is widely admired around the world. We are confident that the assortment of MLB games, shows and events that Tencent will stream will entertain millions of sports fans in China and help continue to grow the sport.”

As part of the broad alliance, Tencent will also work closely with the league to help grow baseball in China by supporting and streaming MLB’s extensive array of youth baseball and development events. The Chinese media company will also develop and host an MLB digital fan club for increased discussion of the league.

The Tencent package is almost identical to the three-year deal signed in 2016 between the MLB and Le Sports, which suffered serious financial challenges after overextending itself on a series of rights buys.