Tencent pays US$1.5b for NBA rights

Chinese internet and entertainment giant Tencent has paid US$1.5 billion to renew its exclusive five-year digital licensing contract with the National Basketball Association, some three times the value of their previous agreement, according to a press release by NBA.

Tencent will retain the rights to offer live NBA broadcasts, videos on demand and short video services to Chinese fans through various websites, apps and social platforms under the new deal, Tencent said today in a statement. It will also work with the NBA to create innovative advertising products and to build a fan community, it added.

The tech giant landed its first five-year NBA digital broadcasting contract for US$500 million in 2015 and bought the NBA League Pass for the 2016 through 2020 seasons for RMB200 million (US$29 million), allowing it to broadcast 1,300 matches to Chinese fans every season.

Some 490 million fans watched NBA streams and shows via Tencent channels in the recently ended 2018/19 season, tripling the number from the 2014/15 season, Tencent data shows. The 2019 NBA Finals’ Game 6, which wound up being the series finale, attracted 21 million watchers to hit a record high viewership for a single show.

State broadcaster CCTV broadcast the first NBA game in China in 1986 and still has the television broadcasting rights. Shanghai Media Group’s web TV provider BesTV has internet protocol TV rights to NBA games.

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