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