“Boyhood,” the first ever baseball-themed television series in China, reached a large audience of viewers in China across television and digital platforms. The series, which was produced in cooperation with Major League Baseball, generated more than 5 billion video views, 3.1 billion social media impressions in China (@Weibo), and won its time period on television during the golden time window, China’s primetime (7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.).
The 40-episode series starred the TFBoys, a popular Chinese boy band, as baseball players trying to turn around the performance of a losing team. The series aired on Hunan Satellite TV, China’s top satellite television station, and was available on digital platforms Tencent Video and iQiyi Video. “Boyhood” ranked as the number one topic on @Weibo for the month of July, the first time that has occurred for a baseball topic in China.
The baseball scenes for “Boyhood” were filmed at the MLB Development Center in Nanjing, China. Seventeen players from the MLB Development Center made guest appearances in the series, including three who have signed Minor League contracts with MLB Clubs: “Itchy” Xu Guiyan (Baltimore Orioles), Hai-Cheng Gong (Pittsburgh Pirates) and Justin Qiangbarenzeng (Boston Red Sox).
“The huge audience tuning into this year’s ‘Boyhood’ series is the latest indication that baseball is finding its own distinctive way forward in communities around the world,” said Chris Park, MLB Executive Vice President, Global Marketing and Partnerships. “We are delighted to see the MLB Development Centers serve and inspire great Chinese storytelling, even as the Centers continue to lay the foundation for the first full generation of Major League Chinese talent.”
MLBI has opened three MLB Development Centers in China in Wuxi, Changzhou and Nanjing. The Centers provide world-class facilities for talented Chinese student athletes in grades 7-12, combining a mainstream school curriculum with baseball skills development.