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Major League Baseball getting streamed to China

By Lia Zhu and Linda Deng in Las Vegas | China Daily USA | Updated: 2016-01-08 11:52

Chinese tech company Letv has partnered with Major League Baseball (MLB) to live stream games in China, which marks the first mass market media agreement of MLB.

Under the three-year agreement starting in January of 2016, Le Sports, the sports arm of Letv, will hold exclusive media rights in the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macau to broadcast 125 MLB games per season, along with Mandarin-language MLB programming, through its internet platform, mobile applications, and over-the-top devices.

The 125-game lineup includes four HD games per week during the regular season, 20 HD postseason games, the All-Star Game, Home Run Derby and all of the World Series.

In addition to live streaming games, Le Sports will have rights to rebroadcast the games through video on demand.

"We hope this partnership goes beyond just bringing content into China," Yu Hang, vice-president for strategy at Le Sports, said at a press conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday. "The Chinese people are encouraged not only to watch the games online, but also buy the authentic sports products and participate in the sport."

"China is a crucial frontier for the development of baseball. Our new, prominent place on Le Sports platforms both reaffirms and expands our commitment to growing the game in China," said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Besides broadcasting games, Le Sports will establish an online community for 30 MLB clubs and become a central portal for Chinese baseball fans to connect more deeply with their favorite teams, from supporting MLB live events to merchandise purchases.

"We will also provide licensed MLB products at our online store," said Yu. "In the past, the Chinese fans had no access to licensed products."

Le Sports will continue as a co-producer of MLB Perfect Pitch, a baseball reality show. Le Sports also will broadcast MLB Beijing University Baseball League and MLB Shanghai University Baseball League opening and final games as well as MLB Play Ball! Youth Program games.

Baseball and major league players have become popular among young Chinese sports fans in the past few years, said Le Sports CEO Lei Zhenjian, adding that the company will also invest significant marketing resources and leverage its unique digital device ecosystem to promote the sport.

"Over the last decade, MLB has worked steadily to lay a lasting foundation for baseball in China," said Tony Petitti, MLB chief operating officer, at a press conference. "We have made remarkable progress developing uniquely Chinese baseball content, enriching the curricula of local schools, and mentoring the first generation of top-flight homegrown players."

He said this partnership was an "encouraging inflection point" in the story of MLB China and would enhance all aspects of MLB's presence in China.

Contact the writers at liazhu@chinadailyusa.com or lindadeng@chinadailyusa.com.

 Major League Baseball getting streamed to China

Gao Fei (front right), Le Sports chairman, presents Le Sports' Super Bike as a gift to Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred (to left of Gao) at a press conference held on Wednesday in Las Vegas, where the two sides announced a media agreement. Provided to China Daily

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