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ESPN inks exclusive digital partnership with China's Tencent

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MUMBAI: After collaborating with Sony Pictures Networks India to launch co-branded sports channels in the country, ESPN has now trained its eyes on China.

The sportscaster has inked a deal with China’s online products and services company Tencent, which builds on Tencent’s vast user base across the globe and ESPN’s expertise in sports content creation.

Through the collaboration, ESPN’s content will be localised and exclusively distributed and promoted by Tencent’s digital platforms in China.

Under the agreement, Tencent’s live sports coverage and digital products in China will now feature exclusive Chinese-language (Mandarin) ESPN content - a combination of original and localised content - initially focused on the NBA and international soccer, with the potential to expand to other sports.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with one of China’s most innovative companies, and our relationship with Tencent marks an exciting new era for ESPN’s global business. This agreement will help us serve millions of Chinese fans and bring our coverage of basketball, international soccer and other sports to them like never before,” said ESPN International executive vice president Russell Wolff.

To satisfy the growing user demand for popular international sports content, Tencent will also be the exclusive, digital home for the NCAA Men’s March Madness basketball tournaments, more than 100 regular season college basketball games and the X Games.

In addition, Tencent’s QQ Sports (Sports.qq.com), a Chinese online sports portal, will help ESPN establish its digital presence in China by launching an ESPN section. ESPN’s content will be integrated across other QQ.com channels and sections.

“Tencent boasts a huge pool of users. Every single day, hundreds of millions of people watch streamed sports games and read sports news on Tencent. We’re really pleased to establish this relationship with ESPN, a world leading sports media group. It will accelerate Tencent’s development as a comprehensive and professional digital platform and set benchmarks for the Chinese sports media sector,” said Tencent senior executive vice president and president of its Online Media Group SY Lau.

These growing marketplace in China comprises 1.3 billion people, nearly 670 million Internet users and more than 440 million television households. This deal is another example of ESPN working with top in-market companies to serve sports fans locally.

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