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Connecting with a new generation

By LIANG SHUANG | China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-21 10:46

Connecting with a new generation

The UEFA Champions League final, the NHL's Stanley Cup final and the NBA Finals attracted hundreds of millions of viewers through computers and cellphones on Tencent Sports, which has gained digital-media rights to some of the world's biggest sporting spectacles. [Photo/China Daily]

Tencent has blazed a trail in streaming live action from the world's top professional leagues in recent years, and the company believes the way new generations of fans consume sport online is vastly different from traditional media.

Having invested massively in digital media rights, Tencent Sports' Hot Blood Champions Season has attracted huge numbers of fans with an aggregated live broadcasting package that includes the NBA and NHL playoffs and, in soccer, the final phases of the UEFA Champions League and English Premier League.

A recent live discussion of the Hot Blood Champions Season revealed how far some fans were willing to go to watch the games.

One said he once smeared a colored potion on his classmates so they could fake illness to skip class to watch their favorite teams play. Another said he blew off his blind date for a game.

As part of Tencent's nine-hour live coverage of the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Juventus, an image (or "poster" as Tencent refers to it) of Madrid fans celebrating the victory in a bar went viral with the reports of the match.

"Many users want to save our posters as memorabilia, and ask us to remove the explanatory words or signatures on the post," said Gordon Xie, general manager of Marketing, Online Media Group of Tencent.

Other match-themed posters also proved popular, including the interactive activities during the live broadcasting, like "Complete the sentence 'Hot blood is...".

"Hot blood is the impulse to get on the court whenever, wherever, if we see the sports we like," wrote one Weibo user.

Connecting with a new generation

The UEFA Champions League final, the NHL's Stanley Cup final and the NBA Finals attracted hundreds of millions of viewers through computers and cellphones on Tencent Sports, which has gained digital-media rights to some of the world's biggest sporting spectacles. [Photo/China Daily]

A train on Beijing's Subway Line 10 also featured decorations according to theme of the Champions Season.

"Many voluntarily chose to wait up to 23 trains for that particular train," said general manager of Tencent Sports Ewell Zhao.

"They share videos of themselves witnessing the train in our community.

"Frankly, I think sports in China lack a ritualistic sense. We're trying to awaken that feeling in those who used to fully engage with their favorite teams but whose passion has faded."

Tencent's viewership of the NBA Finals' last game grew by 30 percent to about 175 million this year, partly thanks to the Champions Season package.

Connecting with a new generation

The UEFA Champions League final, the NHL's Stanley Cup final and the NBA Finals attracted hundreds of millions of viewers through computers and cellphones on Tencent Sports, which has gained digital-media rights to some of the world's biggest sporting spectacles. [Photo/China Daily]

Numbers for the NHL also achieved a "rapid" increase, according to Tencent.

"No matter what, you can always find happiness as long as you dig, so we did a little rendering," said Xie. "We just want to bring a bit of inspiration and a little content to people.

"You may see optimism, you may enjoy humor, you may also be touched, that's the charm of sports."

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