While most people were focused on the Alibaba/SAIC controversy last week, the National Basketball Association inked a five year exclusive license with Tencent last week for digital content.
Effective on July 1, Tencent will become the exclusive digital partner of the NBA in China. Tencent will record a number of live NBA games and deliver the programming to its audiences. NBA live games and content will be available for fans to access. Tencent and the NBA will also launch the first-ever NBA League Pass in China, providing fans with access to a full season of live and on-demand NBA games online and via mobile devices. Tencent and the NBA will also jointly manage and operate the NBA’s digital assets in China, including NBA.com/China and sites for all 30 NBA teams, NBA events, and merchandise. Tencent will also launch the NBA Game Time app on mobile devices. Lastly, the NBA and Tencent will unveil the NBA Community including an NBA dedicated gaming section within the Tencent Games platform, a more integrated social commerce platform, and a premium subscription service. Tencent will also develop NBA-themed interactive games on its platforms.
The deal comes hot on the heels of another deal that Tencent signed with Warner Music in November. Hopefully, this latest deal will have the added benefits of putting additional pressure on China to insure that live broadcasting and webcasting of sports games is subject to copyright protection and improving the distribution channels for legitimate NBA merchandise.