The NFL is partnering with Chinese social media giant Sina Weibo to live-stream games on the social network, including the Super Bowl.
The deal, which the NFL describes as a world first, is already underway — several games were live-streamed over the past couple of weekends, including the final regular-season Sunday Night Football game — but was only recently announced.
In addition to the six regular season games that have already been aired, Sina Weibo users will also be able to tune in live to three playoff games and Super Bowl LI on Sunday, February 5.
“Sina Weibo is an excellent partner for the NFL as we engage fans across the Chinese mainland. We are excited about working with Sina Weibo to stream NFL games to millions of fans. We’re confident this will be a valuable long-term partnership for the NFL and our sponsors in China,” said Richard Young, managing director of NFL China.
Often referred to as China’s version of Twitter, Sina Weibo currently boasts 297 million monthly active users (a figure comparable to that of its Western counterpart). An average of 100 million messages are shared on Sina Weibo every day, and the platform contains its fair share of famous public figures including Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, and Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Having already struck a similar live-streaming deal with Twitter, the NFL is likely looking to break into the massive Chinese market via the country’s domestic social media, home to millions of younger users.
Unlike the Twitter deal, however, the Sina Weibo partnership also includes coverage of the Super Bowl and a ton of non-game video content such as the top 10 performances of the week, top five runs, and top five catches.
The NFL claims it currently attracts around 1.5 million viewers in China each week. Seeing as the Twitter deal saw it grab 2.3 million viewers for its first broadcast, it’s easy to see those numbers getting a boost through the popular Chinese social network.
Whether its latest deal means the NFL will continue to bring its content to social media elsewhere in the world remains to be seen. The thought of the Super Bowl coming to Twitter is an exciting prospect, and something the social platform could push for if and when it decides to extend its content partnership with the sports league.
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