Late in 2015, the NFL made moves to expand its streaming presence internationally. Now, MLB is following suit with a new three-year deal with Chinese sports streaming and events company Le Sports that will make it the official streaming partner for MLB in China, Hong Kong, and Macau.
The deal will bring more than 125 Major League Baseball games per season to China for the first time, live and on demand, exclusively to Le Sports subscribers. In addition to the regular and postseason games, Le Sports also retains rights to the All-Star Game, the Home Run Derby and all World Series games.
“By working with MLB in China over the past three years on events, we saw just how appealing the league is to Chinese families, and how popular the games and MLB players have become to young sports fans in China,” said Le Sports CEO Zhenjian Lei in a statement.
Le Sports currently holds the media rights to over 200 sports events covering 10,000 matches. The company also operates events, smart devices and OTT services. Similar companies in the United States include Whistle Sports, which also has a pact with MLB, and soccer-focused platforms Kick TV and Fubo TV.
The sports market has been of increasing focus in the streaming space and in many ways is the driver for cable subscribers to keep their bundles.
MLB has made significant early strides in the digital streaming space, establishing the MLB Advanced Media Group to service digital streaming experiences both at a national and local level.
“MLBAM knows well that what was once just America’s past time has grown to engage fans and athletes around the world. This deal seems set to accelerate that growth in a massive market that has an expanding appetite and interest in this kind of content,” said Brian Selander, Executive Vice President at The Whistle Sports.