Will the U.S. national pasttime score with Chinese web users? We’re about to find out.
Major League Baseball just announced at the CES convention a three-year deal giving China’s Le Sports — part of LeTV Holdings Co. — the first-ever right to live stream up to 125 games per season in the mainland, Hong Kong, and Macau.
It can offer its Mandarin-language programming to computers, mobile platforms, and streaming TV devices. The line up will consist of 96 games — four per week — during the regular season as well as 20 postseason games, the All-Star Game, Home Run Derby, and all World Series matches. Le Sports also can offer the games afterward on demand.
“China is a crucial frontier for the development of baseball,” MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred, Jr. says. “Our new, prominent place on Le Sports platforms both reaffirms and expands our commitment to growing the game in China.”
In addition to offering baseball games, Le Sports will create online communities for 30 MLB clubs creating what it calls “a central portal for Chinese baseball fans to connect more deeply with their favorite teams, from supporting MLB live events to merchandise purchases.”
It will continue to co-produce a baseball reality show, MLB Perfect Pitch, and carry the opening and final games for the MLB Beijing University Baseball League and MLB Shanghai University Baseball League.
“Baseball is a sport of ‘coming home,’ which matches our traditional Chinese family values perfectly,” Le Sports Chairman Fei Gao says. The company wants to “encourage more families and young people to play and enjoy this amazing sport” and will “work with MLB to provide fans with events, merchandise and other opportunities to enhance their enjoyment of baseball.”
The World Series and other select MLB games have been available on Chinese TV since 2007.
Le Sports has been busy lately snapping up sports rights. It recently reached agreements with the NCAA, Wimbledon, the English Premier League, and tennis’ ATP.
LeTV is makingits first appearance at CES. It said earlier this week that it would announce “several key, technology, entertainment and sports partnerships as the company details its vision and immediate plans to enter the U.S. market in 2016.”