NBA Agrees to Deal with Tencent to Launch League Pass in China

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJanuary 30, 2015

BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 13: Anta Chairman and CEO Ding ShiZhong and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver pose for a photo at the Anta press conference as part of the 2014 NBA Global Games at Renmin University on October 13, 2014 in Beijing, China. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

NBA League Pass is coming to its biggest international market. The league announced a deal Thursday with Chinese mass media company Tencent to provide League Pass games and other content through the NBA-savvy market.

Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press and Richard Sandomir of The New York Times provided details on the announcement:

Tim Reynolds @ByTimReynolds

Tencent and the NBA announce the launch of League Pass in China for online and mobile. Game just got more global than ever. Mucho bucks too.

Richard Sandomir @RichSandomir

NBA announcing five year deal w/ Chinese digital giant Tencent Holdings worth $500M to $700M to carry games, other programming

The deal was the NBA's second major media rights contract of the 2014-15 season. In October, the league announced a $24 billion deal with Turner Sports and the Walt Disney Co. that will keep the sport on ESPN/ABC and TNT through the 2024-25 season.

That alone has led to massive speculation about how far the NBA's salary cap will skyrocket. While minor in comparison, the Chinese deal will continue the rise in basketball-related revenue and help the league in its global expansion.

China has become the NBA's richest overseas market since the turn of the century, most notably with Yao Ming's arrival stateside. Voracious fan support soon followed, and the league has made consistent headway trying to expand in China—most notably with its Global Games.

“Nothing can be No. 1 at anything in the world unless it is No. 1 in China,” Silver told the Chinese media last year.

“So not only do the Global Games bring the NBA to China, but through broadcasting our games in China around the globe they also bring China to the rest of the world."

Under previous agreements, the NBA was available on multiple Chinese outlets. The new deal with Tencent allows it to concentrate its efforts and expand the League Pass brand. Tencent is currently the world's fifth-largest Internet company and largest in China, per Reuters.

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