NFL hatches Super Bowl deal with China Central TV

MUMBAI: The National Football League and China's public broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) have reached an agreement for the live broadcast of this season's Super Bowl.


CCTV-5, which claims to be China's only 24-hour terrestrial sports channel that is broadcast across the country, will televise Super Bowl XXXVIII live from Houston's Reliant Stadium to more than 300 million households throughout mainland China. The game takes place on 2 February.

NFL commissioner Paul Tagliaube was quoted in an official release saying, "This is an exciting partnership. It is another indication of the growing interest in our sport and the Super Bowl from beyond our borders. CCTV delivers broad exposure in a market that we feel is most promising in the future."

A five-person production crew from CCTV will capture all the sights, sounds of Super Bowl XXXVIII . In the lead up to Super Bowl, NFL Films and CCTV Sports will jointly produce a localised version of NFL Blast. This is the league's international magazine show. Broadcast completely in Mandarin, the show debuted on CCTV-5 on 1 January. It airs every Thursday with a re-broadcast every Monday morning.

NFL Blast will help introduce viewers to the basics of the NFL and American football. Each one-hour show will have instructional segments, lifestyle pieces introducing NFL personalities. In addition, there will be a portion dedicated to explaining the Super Bowl's place in American culture and a set of highlights from the previous week's games. The aim is to set the stage for the first live, nationwide Super Bowl broadcast in China since 1987.

This is the latest of several initiatives launched by the NFL in China during the past 14 months. In November, more than 400 players and coaches from 23 schools participated in the first NFL Flag Football tournament in Shanghai, which was won by Chang Ning Middle School. Super Bowl XXXVIII will be televised in over 220 countries and territories to a potential worldwide audience estimated at more than one billion.

According to a survey conducted by the Initiative International media agency, last season's Super Bowl - between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders was the most-watched sports event on television, globally. It managed to out-score events like the Champions League final, the final stage of the Tour de France, the Rugby World Cup final, and game six of the NBA finals.

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