At the outset of a pivotal year for Major League Baseball's international initiatives, the league has formed a business partnership within a country where it desperately wants to establish a lasting relationship.
Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the league announced what it's describing as a "wide-ranging partnership" with China-based Le Sports, through which MLB will live stream games in China for the first time.
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MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, chief operating officer Tony Petitti, and senior vice president of international strategy Chris Park traveled to Las Vegas for the announcement, a sign of the league's seriousness about the Chinese market.
MLB says the agreement will include streaming of 125 games per year and other Mandarin-language baseball programming. The deal begins this season and includes four regular-season games per week, the All-Star Game, the Home Run Derby, and playoff games -- including every game of the World Series.
"China is a crucial frontier for the development of baseball," Manfred said in a statement. "Our new, prominent place on Le Sports platforms both reaffirms and expands our commitment to growing the game in China."
MLB already operates a developmental center for youth players in China, from which the Baltimore Orioles signed prospect Xu Guiyuan in 2015.