Tencent and NFL extend rights deal, launch subscription service

American football’s NFL has renewed its digital media rights deal with Chinese internet giant Tencent for the 2020 season, and the two parties have launched a new subscription service around the content.

Tencent’s sports platform Tencent Sports will stream one live NFL game per week free of charge.

The new subscription service, which launched last week in time for the start of the 2020 season, will offer live coverage of all games during the season and a host of extra content and features. These include replayed on-demand games, condensed games, full high-definition coverage, NFL RedZone live coverage from multiple games, Chinese and English-language audio tracks, on-demand highlights, short-form video content, interactive experiences, the Hard Knocks documentary series and coverage of the NFL Draft.

Tencent will provide additional NFL coverage across its various channels, including Tencent Sports, Tencent News and Tencent Video.

Tencent previously held NFL digital rights in China in a three-year deal covering 2017 to 2019.

Announcing the new agreement, Tencent said ratings for NFL coverage on digital platforms in China had increased by 56 per cent during the 2019 regular season, and there had been more than 700 million views of NFL videos – an average of 32 million per week.

Richard Young, general manager of NFL China, said: “The NFL fan base in China continues to grow and become more enthusiastic. They hope to see more personalised NFL content, and Tencent Sports’ NFL membership products will provide full live broadcasts, game highlights, a full range of services such as [the] RedZone live broadcast, highlights, bilingual in Chinese and English, and HD broadcasting.”

Zhao Guochen, general manager of Tencent Sports operations, added: “We believe that the NFL and Tencent Sports’ joint membership service will inject new vitality into the development of NFL in China…We will continue to use Tencent Sports’ platform …serving all [American football] fans, sharing the passion and charm of [American football].”