MLB assists Chinese TV series
Major League Baseball recently collaborated on the first baseball-themed TV series in China, helping advance the sport’s interests in the world’s most populous country.
The league served as a technical consultant and provided its MLB Development Center in Nanjing, China, for “Boyhood,” a 40-episode TV series airing both on TV (Hunan Satellite TV) and digitally. The series featured the TFBoys, a highly popular Chinese boy band, as players on an up-and-coming youth baseball team seeking to overcome a series of obstacles.
|The league served as a technical assistant to the series, which featured the TFBoys.
Similar to MLB’s efforts on domestic TV series such as Fox’s now-canceled “Pitch,” the “Boyhood” effort in China involved trying to place baseball squarely in other segments of pop culture.
|'Boyhood' placed baseball in other segments of pop culture.
The “Boyhood” series also featured 17 actual baseball players groomed at MLB’s Development Center in China, including three who have signed minor league contracts with MLB clubs.
“Boyhood” additionally intersected with another major MLB business initiative in China: the league’s multiyear deal with Le Sports to live-stream MLB games in the country. A promo spot for “Boyhood” jointly produced by MLB China and the show’s producers ran during live MLB games on Le Sports. And viewers of MLB’s All-Star Game and Home Run Derby on Le Sports had a chance to win limited-edition posters from the show.
Le Sports, however, has serious financial issues, losing digital content contracts with the Asian Football Confederation and ATP World Tour over missed rights fee payments and shedding 10 percent of its staff late last year.