China's iQiyi Acquires Streaming Rights to Women's Tennis
The 10-year content deal includes over live 2,000 matches, as well as interviews with the stars of the women's game.
Pioneering Chinese video platform iQiyi has signed a 10-year content deal with the Women's Tennis Association.
The non-exclusive agreement, which begins in 2017, grants iQiyi live streaming rights to over 2,000 professional women's tennis matches, including singles and doubles, as well as highlights, player interviews and content from the WTA Magazine Show, a behind-the-scenes program produced in-house by the WTA.
The popularity of women's tennis has exploded in China since local star Li Na won the French Open in 2011, becoming the first Asian female Grand Slam singles champion.
iQiyi will provide a multi-court transmission during major tournaments, allowing users to select their preferred match from a range of courts. The broadcasts will be carried in both English and Chinese.
Viewers will be able to access the tennis content from iQiyi's online, mobile and OTT (over the top) video services.
Said Micky Lawler, WTA president: "This is a first-of-its-kind partnership for the WTA in China. iQiyi’s platform reinvents our digital offer in China in line with the new ways fans consume sports and entertainment content today, and in the future."
The competition and cost for sports rights in China is rising. Last month China Media Capital agreed to pay a record $1.3 billion for broadcast rights to Chinese Super League soccer, and LeTV paid $400 million for English Premier League rights in Hong Kong alone. Dalian Wanda Group, meanwhile, bought the Ironman Triathlon races outright for $650 million in August.