Starting September 22, iQiyi Sports – the joint venture of iQiyi and marketing agency Super Sports Media – will broadcast the promoter’s weekly programmes Raw and SmackDown, along with its monthly pay-per-view events.
The latter move is a slight change of tact for the WWE, which has spent the past several years growing its subscription-based WWE Network as the home of its PPVs. However, as the SVOD is unavailable in China (like Netflix, Amazon, and almost all other significant Western players), iQiyi Sports presents the best opportunity to grow the brand.
Coverage in both Chinese and English will be available to subscribers of the iQiyi Sports and iQiyi Sports boxing memberships.
iQiyi Sports chief executive Lingxiao Yu said: “WWE is loved by many fans around the world and has a huge fan base in China, I have full confidence in this partnership.”
Jay Li, WWE vice president and general manager, Greater China, said, “We are thrilled to begin an exciting new chapter for WWE in the region as we bring our unique blend of action-packed, family-friendly sports entertainment to iQIYI Sport’s impressive portfolio of premium sports content.”
This is the WWE’s second media-rights deal in China, with the promotion also having a deal with PPTV – the broadcaster currently suing the English Premier League after its £520 million+ broadcast deal was abandoned. It is believed that this deal has been renegotiated in light of the current financial crisis.
The WWE has also expanded into MENA with highly publicised – and highly controversial – 10 year deal with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia understood to be worth upwards of US$450 million for the production of two shows a year.
Elsewhere,iQIYI Sports recently announced a ‘strategic collaboration’ with top Spanish football club FC Barcelona which will see the launch of a channel dedicated to the Catalonian side.
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