The National Football League and Tencent Holdings Ltd on Monday 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 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons.
The partnership also includes rights to the NFL Draft, NFL Combine and NFL Game Day, as well as programming such as NFL Hard Knocks and A Football Life.
NFL live games and content will be available for fans on both mobile and desktop terminals including Tencent Sports, QQ.com, Tencent Video, Kuai Bao, Penguin Live, Tencent Sports app, Tencent Video app and the Tencent News app, as well as its social networking services, QQ and WeChat.
"We are very excited about the NFL's future in China and proud of our partnership with Tencent," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "We are confident that this agreement will provide our growing number of Chinese fans with a better viewing experience and more opportunities for engagement with the NFL than ever before."
"We believe our capability in production, content distribution and fans' engagement will help NFL expand its audience profile and elevate the popularity of American football in China," said Caitlyn Chen, Tencent vice-president. "Tencent Sports has been dedicated to fulfilling the diverse needs of Chinese users by bringing top premium sports content to China, including global sports leagues and tournaments, basketball, soccer, tennis, winter sports and American football, among others."
"We will continue to maximize the value of the sports right owners via the partnership and enhance the digital entertainment experience for Chinese users. We are committed to contributing to the growth of China's sports industry," Chen said.
NFL China Managing Director Richard Young said "this extraordinary partnership will bring localized NFL games and content to Tencent's hundreds of millions of daily users across China. The NFL's popularity in China is soaring, and our fan base will receive unprecedented NFL coverage and content throughout the year." NFL China was established in 2007. According to NFL China research, more than 19 million people are interested in the American football league in China, mainly in Tier 1 cities. The NFL says its fan base in China has grown more than 1,000 percent in the past five years.