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Volume 7 No. 149


Tom Brady is a favorite for Chinese fans.
Photo: getty images

The NFL New England Patriots are the most popular NFL team online in China following a monumental year, on and off the field. Last week, the Patriots hit 500,000 followers on Weibo -- a growth of 400,000 within the past 12 months -- becoming the first NFL team to reach half-a-million, with the closest club to the Patriots on Weibo the Pittsburgh Steelers (271,000). The Patriots are the fastest-growing and most-engaged NFL club online in China, currently growing quicker than many European football clubs including ManU and Barcelona as well as the majority of NBA clubs. The Patriots amassed a cult following in the world's most populous country thanks to a dedicated and localized approach to the market. The Patriots produced a China-specific studio show (Gillette Stadium TV), as well as the Tom Brady China Show -- a monthly content series featuring the six-time Super Bowl champion -- to deliver local stories and content (Mailman).

Spark Sport Managing Dir Simon Moutter said that the company "could allow another one million Kiwis to watch paid sports," according to Tom Pullar-Strecker of STUFF. Spark on Wednesday revealed pricing for its online sports service, which will launch in March and cost NZ$19.99 ($13.70) a month. At that price, subscribers -- who "need not be Spark broadband customers" -- will get "all you can eat" online access to Spark's sports programming which will include the EPL, Formula 1, NBA and hockey. The service will launch with a one-month free trial and after that, "some content, such as sports highlights and some replays, would still be free." Head of Sport Jeff Latch said that Spark planned to announce deals for more sports rights "soon." He said that the additional programming would also be included within the NZ$19.99 monthly pricing. But the monthly pricing will not include the right to watch this year's Rugby World Cup in Japan in September, for which Spark has also bought the rights (STUFF, 2/20).

A consortium of Blitz and Trans Group "stepped in to cover" the fourth season of the Pakistan Super League, after IMG-Reliance pulled out of its deal to produce TV coverage of the tournament. IMG-Reliance's decision to pull out came in the wake of the suicide bomb attack in Pulwama, Kashmir, which killed 44 Indian paramilitary troops. The attack "stained relations" between the two nations, with TV channel DSports also announcing it would not broadcast the next season (NEWS18, 2/20). 

The Singapore Premier League will stream all 126 of its matches online for its '19 season. The league trialed streaming in '18 and claims it received "a total of 1.17 million views for the 98 matches that were streamed" (THE DRUM, 2/20).

Movistar confirmed it will screen top matches from Serie A and Ligue 1. Throughout the rest of the current season, the Spanish IPTV platform confirmed its first matches will be seen on Friday (BROADBAND TV NEWS, 2/20). 

The Professional Squash Association signed a multiyear agreement with Facebook to bring live matches from the PSA Tour to Facebook Watch. The matches will be available to territories outside of Europe and Japan on a non-exclusive basis. Live action up until the semifinals for each tournament will be shown on Facebook Watch (PSA).