The National Football League this week announced a new streaming deal with Chinese internet giant Tencent, as the league looks to expand its overseas audience.
The three-year deal, announced Monday, gives Tencent exclusive digital streaming rights to live and on-demand NFL games in China, including the playoffs and the Super Bowl, as well as all Thursday, Sunday, and Monday night games. Live games and other content will be available through a range of Tencent’s mobile and desktop platforms, including Tencent Sports and the social networks QQ and WeChat. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The NFL trails behind the NBA and European soccer in terms of popularity in China, but the league says its audience has grown since the launch of NFL China in 2007. Citing NFL statistics, the AFP reports that the league’s live streamed games drew 37 million unique views in 2016, up 17 percent from the previous year, while its on-demand viewership increased by 52 percent to 282 million views.
The NFL hopes to further increase viewership through Tencent’s wide-reaching platforms. By the end of June, the Tencent-owned social networks Weixin and WeChat drew a combined 960 million monthly active users.