NFL Announces Three-Year Partnership With China's Tencent Holdings Ltd.
The NFL and Tencent Holdings Ltd. announced a three-year partnership to make Tencent Sports the exclusive live digital streaming media partner of the NFL in China. Tencent will air live and on-demand select preseason games, all Thursday Night Football, Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football games, as well as select Sunday afternoon games, the playoffs, the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl for the '17, '18 and '19 seasons. The partnership also features other footage and programming rights such as the NFL Draft, NFL Combine and NFL Game Day, as well as programming such as NFL Hard Knocks and A Football Life, making Tencent the home of the NFL in China. NFL live games and content will be available for fans through Tencent's NFL sections on mobile and desktop terminals (NFL). The AFP reported financial details were not disclosed. The NFL has "traditionally lagged" the NBA and European football leagues "in drawing a Chinese following." But the NFL has "pushed aggressively" in recent years and reports growing interest as Chinese consumers armed with smartphones seek "more diverse sources" of mobile sport and entertainment. The NFL said that its digital live-streaming viewership in China grew 17% in '16 to 37 million viewers while video-on-demand jumped 52% to 282 million views, under contracts with previous partners (AFP, 8/21).