MLB games will be streamed in China from the 2016 season onwards as commissioner Rob Manfred looks to make a sizeable impact in what he has labelled "a crucial frontier for the development of baseball ".
With a growth potential of more than one billion new fans, a "wide-ranging partnership" was announced on Wednesday with China-based Le Sports in which major league games will be live-streamed in China for the first time.
Under the three-year deal, four regular-season games per week will be live-streamed, as will the All-Star Game, the Home Run Derby and playoff games -- including every game of the World Series.
"If pingpong brought China and America closer together, imagine what baseball will do," said Eric Mika senior vice president of LeTV, a division of Le Sports, in a statement on MLB.com. "Business can do good while also doing good business."
To show how desperately MLB want to establish a lasting presence in China, Manfred, chief operating officer Tony Petitti and senior VP of international strategy Chris Park travelled to Las Vegas to make the announcement at the high-profile Consumer Electronics Show.
"China is a crucial frontier for the development of baseball," Manfred said in a statement via Fox Sports.
"Our new, prominent place on Le Sports platforms both reaffirms and expands our commitment to growing the game in China."
MLB established an office in Beijing in 2007 and has emphasized growth of the game and player development at the grassroots level. Those programmes hit a milestone last July when the Baltimore Orioles signed 19-year-old infielder Itchy Xu.