Television

NFL content to be televised in 223 countries

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NEW YORK: Fans of American football, National Football League (NFL) are in for a treat. Over 60 broadcasters from 223 countries and territories, throughout the world will receive NFL programming soon.

The content will exceed 70,000-hours during the 2003 season. The coverage will stretch across 24 time zones and will broadcast in over 30 languages. In India, viewers can catch the action on ESPN.

The season started yesterday with the NFL Kickoff which took place at the National Mall in Washington DC. The event concludes on 1 February 2004 with the crowning of the NFL champion at Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston, Texas.

An official release informs that for the first time since 1986, the NFL will come to free TV in China, the world's most populous country. Thanks to an agreement with CCTV, China's only national terrestrial broadcaster, the NFL will be made available in more than 300 million households with a potential audience of over one billion.

With a penetration of over 90 per cent throughout mainlaind China, CCTV-5, the network's dedicated sports channel, will broadcast late-season NFL action leading into the 2003 playoffs.

CCTV-5 will culminate its NFL coverage at Super Bowl XXXVIII, when it will send an eight-person crew to Houston to cover the game and surrounding festivities for live broadcast.

NFL fans in Japan will also enjoy two new shows this season. NTV will debut NFL Club, a weekly programme featuring game highlights, player features and previews of upcoming games. Gaora's Gridiron, airing every alternative week, is aimed at attracting new fans by combining the thrills of football with pop culture. NFL highlights and commentary will be combined with new and recently-released Japanese music videos.

In addition to new programming during the 2003 season, broadcasters who have finalised either new or renewed agreements to continue meeting the needs of NFL fans worldwide include ESPN Star (pan-Asia), ART (pan-Middle East); Craig Media (Canada); ESPN International (Global); Fox Sports Middle East (pan-Middle East); Star Digital (Turkey); UBC (Thailand).

NFL's international media partners will not only air games this season, they will also carry NFL Films-produced magazines and archival footage and locally produced, NFL-themed programmes and specials.

NFL International senior vice president Doug Quinn said, "Our programming is designed to educate and entertain fans worldwide. Content will be available to satisfy the hard-core fans, as well as those exposed to the game for the first time. Through our broadcast partners, millions of fans will experience NFL football this season."

In addition to game broadcasts, NFL programming supplied to international broadcasters for 2003 includes the 30-minute magazine show NFL Blast. Now in its sixth season, the show combines an entertaining style with an instructional flair.

With weekly highlights, player profiles, music videos and stories from around the world, viewers will get ample chance to learn about NFL football, the release says.

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