Tencent Joins Hands with ESPN in Exclusive Digital Partnership in China

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Tencent Joins Hands with ESPN in Exclusive Digital Partnership in China

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  • Companies to Collaborate on Content for Tencent’s Media Platforms in China
  • QQ Sports, China’s Leading Digital Sports Portal, to Launch New ESPN Section
  • ESPN will Complement Tencent’s Exclusive NBA Coverage with Live Chinese-Language Experts and a Weekly Studio Program
  • Tencent will be Exclusive, Digital Home for NCAA’s March Madness® Basketball Tournaments and X Games in China

Tencent, one of China’s and the world’s leading providers of online products and services, has reached an agreement with ESPN, Inc., the global leading sports content company. The groundbreaking agreement 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 localized and exclusively distributed and promoted by Tencent’s digital platforms in China.

“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 SY Lau, Senior Executive Vice President of Tencent and President of its Online Media Group.

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 localized content — initially focused on the NBA and international soccer, with the potential to expand to other sports over the course of the agreement.

“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,” commented Russell Wolff, Executive Vice President, ESPN International.

Beginning with the 2016 NBA Playoffs, ESPN experts will be on-site at five games per week to provide exclusive, live Chinese-language analysis as part of Tencent’s NBA coverage. ESPN will also provide a weekly NBA opinion and debate program for Tencent users.

To satisfy the growing user demand for popular international sports content, Tencent will also license from ESPN the exclusive, live digital rights in mainland China to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament (aka “March Madness®”), more than 100 regular season college basketball games and the X Games.

Caitlyn Chen, Corporate Vice President of Tencent, said, “We recognize each other’s strengths and expertise. Together, we will further enhance our sports media platforms by taking advantage of each other’s enriched portfolio of assets to better serve the growing demands of Chinese fans.”

Added Mike Morrison, Vice President and General Manager, ESPN Asia Pacific, “We’re excited to expand ESPN’s reach in China. Chinese fans have great knowledge and passion for sports, and bringing together the strengths of Tencent and ESPN will mean they get the best content and coverage across world-class digital products.”

ESPN will have dedicated Chinese-speaking content experts and on-air talent to support the joint effort.

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

ESPN will provide original Chinese-language (Mandarin) stories focused on the NBA and international soccer, as well as deliver a selection of its award-winning English-language NBA and soccer information and video to be translated and published on QQ Sports.

Added Yuefeng Sam Xie, General Manager of Marketing and Business Development of Tencent Sports, “The combination of Tencent and ESPN will create more value among advertisers and across the industry thanks to complementary nature of their businesses. After years of evolution, China’s sports media is now at a crossroads and is ready to transform its traditional way of development. The collaboration between Tencent and ESPN will open an era of customization and innovation in China’s sports media sector.”

About Tencent
Tencent uses technology to enrich the lives of Internet users. Every day, hundreds of millions of people communicate, share experiences, consume information and seek entertainment through our integrated platforms. Tencent’s diversified services include QQ and Weixin/WeChat for communications; Qzone for social networking; QQ Game Platform for online games; QQ.com and Tencent News for information, and Tencent Video for premium video content.

Tencent was founded in Shenzhen in 1998 and went public on the Main Board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2004. The Company is one of the 50 constituent stocks of the Hang Seng Index. Tencent seeks to evolve with the Internet by investing in innovation, providing a hospitable environment for partners, and staying close to users.

About ESPN
ESPN, Inc. is the leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring the broadest portfolio of multimedia sports assets with over 50 business entities, including 35 television networks and a variety of additional businesses that reach sports fans in more than 61 countries and territories across all seven continents. The company’s philosophy to global growth begins with its mission, to serve sports fans anytime, anywhere. It leverages world-class global technology and media platforms to deliver content and products that are locally relevant and tap into the passion and dedication of fans all over the globe. ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc., which is an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The Hearst Corporation holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN.

Paul Melvin

Sr. Director, Communications
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