WWE and Chinese streaming platform iQIYI strike coverage deal
USA's World Wrestling Entertainment has signed a media rights deal in China with iQIYI Sports, the digital streaming platform.
The platform will cover the promotion’s two main programmes, Raw and Smackdown, live each week, for the duration of the partnership, as well the monthly pay-per-view WWE shows, such as WrestleMania and Royal Rumble.
The deal starts today, with commentary to be provided in both Chinese and English-language.
Even though the promotion does already have a broadcast rights deal in China with PPTV, another Chinese streaming service, local media reports have now claimed that arrangement has been recently renegotiated, amidst streaming platforms trying to cut costs during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The first deal between WWE and PPTV was signed in June 2016, with all live WWE pay-per-view events being shown on the platform in Mandarin language. PPTV also agreed to put WWE short-form content on its digital and social media platforms.
iQIYI Sports will “incorporate innovative technologies into the livestreams… and will be collaborating with WWE to develop interactive content”, according to a statement.
Jay Li, WWE’s general manager and vice-president, 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 Sports.”
Lingxiao Yu, the streaming platform’s chief executive, added: “I have full confidence in this partnership… We will leverage the resources of our platform to ensure that top quality WWE content is delivered to Chinese audiences as an unbeatable entertainment experience.”
WWE action on iQIYI Sports will be available through either the site’s regular sports membership, or the boxing membership.
iQIYI is particularly active across soccer, tennis (where it holds Chinese rights to women’s tennis’ WTA Tour until 2027) and golf.
Its most recent deal of note was signed last week, when it entered into a partnership with Spanish soccer giants Barcelona to roll out an official club channel on its main site.
Barcelona are the first LaLiga club to have their own channel on iQIYI, and it will serve up exclusive and non-exclusive videos, including behind-the-scenes footage, training sessions, player challenges, interviews and updates.