NBA aims for global slam dunk with China deal

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has inked a deal with a Chinese internet giant Tencent giving it exclusive rights to stream games in China, as it continues to expand outside of the U.S.

Starting from July, Chinese basketball fans will be able to watch live games on mobiles and PCs if they subscribe to the NBA's League Pass. Other NBA content such as past games will also be available.

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Lintao Zhang | Getty Images

The deal with Tencent continues the NBA's plans to expand into international markets. Earlier this month, the NBA held a game in London between the Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks. Other games have been scheduled in Mexico.

The five-year agreement will see games streamed through Tencent's website QQ.com, news app and messaging app Weixin.

The cost of the deal was not disclosed.

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"This groundbreaking partnership will reach hundreds of millions of daily users across Tencent," NBA China CEO David Shoemaker, said in a press release.

Basketball is one of the most popular sports in China and between 2002 and 2012, five Chinese players have played in the NBA.

'Fastest-growing market'

Major Chinese internet companies, such as Alibaba and Yahoo, are eager to get their hands on top content in an effort to win over the increasingly plugged-in younger generation.

Alibaba CEO Jack Ma last year said he was looking for partners in Hollywood to show movies through the company's products. As such, this deal will be viewed as a major win for Tencent.

Speaking to CNBC earlier this month, two-time NBA champion and former Houston Rockets star Hakeem Olajuwon told CNBC that the NBA has made great strides globally.

"Tthe NBA has become a truly international league - the best league in the world," Olajuwon told CNBC in a TV interview.

"The business is already in China, it is the fastest-growing market. NBA has done a fantastic job connecting the Chinese audience to the NBA basketball."