Tencent and the National Basketball Association announced Monday that they are extending their current partnership — which includes live broadcasts, NBA-related programming, and fan experiences — until 2025, Caixin reported.
The tie-up will seek to further integrate the Chinese internet giant’s social networking prowess with the country’s love for American basketball.
Tencent’s digital platforms, which include ubiquitous social messaging app WeChat, are a “driving force” behind basketball’s growth in China, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in the announcement.
“We look forward to deepening our connection with NBA fans across the country through this expanded partnership.”
In addition to showing live NBA games and on-demand video, the new partnership will also see Tencent platforms like short video outlet Weishi host NBA-related clips. The two parties’ current agreement expires in 2020, the Caixin report said.
Neither Tencent nor the NBA disclosed the price of the new deal, but it is expected to be considerably more than the US$500 million Tencent agreed to pay for the 2015-2020 tie-up — itself more than three times the price the NBA charged for the previous five-season agreement.
Lanxiong Sports, an online Chinese sports news channel, said the number could even reach as high as US$1.5 billion.
A source close to the negotiations told Caixin that e-commerce behemoth Alibaba and state-owned network operator China Mobile’s video platform Migu had both approached the NBA about a potential deal, but the NBA rejected both deals.
Last season, almost 500 million netizens in China watched NBA programming provided by Tencent, the NBA said.
Thanks to the large number of viewers, NBA has become the most popular sports league in China, with players like Kobe Bryant having more than eight million followers on social media platform Weibo.
More than 21 million viewers watched the sixth game of the NBA finals, in which the Toronto Raptors pulled off their first tournament victory, making it the most-watched NBA game ever in China on digital platforms, according to Tencent.
Sources: Caixin, Quartz, Variety