World Wrestling Entertainment (wwe) is set to bring its online video streaming channel WWE Network to Chinese consumers.
The pro wrestling company will enter the ring in China on Aug. 18 through a revenue-sharing deal with homegrown video streaming site PPTV, which is controlled by retail giant Suning Commerce, the Wall Street Journal reports.
China’s major cities are home to more than 140 million fans of the quintessentially American sport-cum-soap opera, according to a report commissioned by the WWE. Only a small fraction of these watch the action legitimately through TV agreements in just nine of China’s 33 provincial-level administrative divisions.
WWE’s chief revenue and marketing officer Michelle Wilson told the Journal that, “we found out that the content was being consumed on digital sites hosting pirated content.”
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With an official channel streaming nationwide, the company is hoping to finally capitalize on this massive existing fanbase. The WWE Network will be available as a subscription video-on-demand service featuring a host of live and pay-per-view WWE events including WrestleMania and SummerSlam, which broadcasts live on Aug. 20.