Sports OTT Landscape in China

How Digital and Mobile Streaming Is Disrupting TV in 2019

About This Report
State media network China Central Television (CCTV) is the main purveyor of sports programming in China, but OTT players, including Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu, have disrupted the ecosystem by securing streaming rights to major sports properties.

Executive Summary

In recent years, OTT players including Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu have managed to secure digital streaming rights for select major sporting events historically reserved for state media, including the Olympics, NBA games and the World Cup.

  • What international sporting events draw the interest of China’s consumers? The upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing, continuing to fuel interest in Olympic coverage. Basketball has also captivated China’s populace, especially among young adults. According to a recent study by Nielsen, 37% of adults under the age of 30 in China are interested in basketball. The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), the country’s domestic league, estimates that over 300 million actively participate in the sport. The FIFA World Cup is arguably the biggest international sporting event among consumers in China.
  • Are companies in China interested in sports marketing? Chinese brands view international sporting events as major marketing opportunities, both domestically and overseas. Mobile phone brand Vivo, commercial property conglomerate Wanda and dairy company Mengniu sponsored the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and a common sight during live broadcasts of matches were LED billboards displaying logos of Chinese brands. In all, brands from China accounted for $835 million, or 35%, of the tournament’s $2.4 billion in ad revenues.
  • Are esports popular in China? According to a Tencent report, esports revenues will climb from $760 million in 2017 to $1.5 billion in 2020, as content, distribution channels, infrastructure and inbound capital continue to drive growth. By then, esports is expected to reach 350 million users in China, accounting for 59% of the global audience.

KEY STAT: A Q3 2018 GlobalWebIndex study found that mobile phones were the top device used by internet users in China to stream sports coverage or highlights, followed by desktop/laptop and tablets. Compared with the same period in the prior year, mobile phones widened their lead.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report surveys the sports streaming industries in China. We catalog streaming services, analyze market trends and data, and provide takeaways for marketers.

This is part of a collection of 11 reports. To access each report, read the global overview "Sports OTT Landscape 2019."


Man-Chung Cheung, and Paul Verna