Chinese TikTok rival Kuaishou has sub-licensed the rights to the two next Olympic Games from state broadcaster CCTV, making it the first short video and livestreaming platform globally to become an official broadcaster of the Olympics.
The deal comes a few weeks after Chinese tech giant Tencent also struck a deal with CCTV for official streaming rights.
Kuaishou secured the short-form rights to both the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in a deal last week with China Media Group, CCTV’s parent company.
It comes as rivalry between Kuaishou and its fiercest competitor, the Bytedance-owned global sensation TikTok, is at a zenith, pushing the firm to seek ways to also expand its reach beyond China.
Kuaishou CEO Su Hua said that the platform now has one billion monthly active users. TikTok, in comparison, is estimated to hit more than 1.2 billion monthly active users by the end of the year, according to tech outlet TechCrunch using figures from App Annie.
In 2014, the International Olympic Committee granted CCTV exclusive China broadcast rights to the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the 2022 Beijing Olympics and the 2024 Paris Olympics.
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Through past partnerships with China Media Group, Kuaishou has been moving into the livestreaming and broadcast of various officially sanctioned events, such as the country’s big patriotic parade for the 2019 National Day holiday and CCTV’s 2020 New Year’s Gala, one of the world’s most watched televised programs. It hopes to pilot new interactive features during its Olympics coverage.
Su said that there are currently some 50,000 sports content creators and 150 million sports fans on Kuaishou. In March, the platform became the official livestream and short video partner for the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), stating that total views of its livestreams for the 2020-2021 season reached 810 million.
Kuaishou went public in Hong Kong in February. Late last month, Chinese tech giant Tencent also signed a deal with China Media Group for the broadcast rights to the Tokyo and Beijing Games, stating that it is the world’s largest internet company to hold official broadcast rights.
Tencent’s Olympic history stretches back a number of years. It obtained China broadcast rights to the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
The tech firm said it will create Olympics-related interactive content, videos and programs to distribute over its various platforms, such as WeChat, Tencent Video, Tencent News and QQ, among others.
Since 2016, the company has pushed more aggressively into live sports coverage via broadcasts of the NBA, Major League Baseball (MLB) and Chinese Super League, among others.
In 2019, Tencent blocked the streaming of NBA games after a spat with the league over a tweet in which the former Houston Rockets manager Daryl Morey expressed support for the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
That bad blood hasn’t stopped it from cutting further major international sports deals, however.
Last September, Tencent nabbed the China broadcast rights to the remainder of the Premiere League’s 2020-2021 season, making half the games free to watch and the other portion available only to subscribers. In April, it expanded its contract with the MLB to encompass China streaming rights up to 2023 while also tacking on the rights to stream games in other Asian countries like Thailand.
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