The National Football League (NFL) has agreed a broadcast deal with Sina Weibo to live stream a number of games, including the Super Bowl.
Although the league only officially announced the deal on 28th December, Sina Weibo - often referred to as the ‘Twitter of China’ - has broadcast several NFL matches over the last three weekends.
The social media service will air three play-off games as well as the 2017 season’s Super Bowl.
The NFL’s partnership with Sina Weibo follows a similar streaming deal struck with Twitter in 2016 for ten Thursday night games. However, the agreement with Sina Weibo is more extensive, as users will be able to access post-season games, as well as non-game video content.
The partnership marks the first time that Sina Weibo will stream live action from a sports league.
Zhang Zhe, head of Sina Weibo Sports, said: "We are glad to launch this strategic partnership with the NFL. We look forward to helping the NFL grow their Chinese market and explore more commercial opportunities, while also providing our Weibo users with a better opportunity to watch and quickly share live games and highlights. We strongly believe that social media is a core platform to promote and consume domestic and international sports events.”
“Sina Weibo is an excellent partner for the NFL as we engage fans across the Chinese Mainland,” added Richard Young, managing director of NFL China. “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,"
The NFL claims to currently attract roughly 1.5 million viewers in China each week. The league’s regular season concluded last weekend following the week 17 round of games. The New England Patriots have the best record entering the play-offs, having won 14 of their 16 matches.