Television

Sports TV forum sees China as an important global growth market for sports TV services

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MUMBAI: At an event hosted by the State Administration for Radio Film and Television (SARFT) and organised by the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) with media partner CCTV-5, the sports network of Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, China emerged as an important global growth market for sports TV services.

The August 24th international industry summit was held in Beijing with an audience of more than 400 international and China-based sports broadcasting executives was dominated by discussion of the potential for the Asian sports TV market and the 2008 Beijing Olympics, informs an official release.

With speakers from World Cup soccer organisers Fifa, the UK's FA Premier League, ESPN Star Sports, Total Sports Asia and the International Olympic Committee, the conference was keynoted by Dave Gordon, the head of major events at BBC Sport, following an introduction to CCTV's plans for 2008 by network vice president Sun Yu Sheng.

"Our biggest advantage is that we have between 300 to 400 million TV sets and one billion viewers in China," said Sheng. "Meanwhile, I can assure you that China will have five dedicated Olympic TV channels as well as a channel for High Definition TV for 2008, allowing us to screen some 3,800 hours of Olympic programming."

Touching on an assurance repeated throughout the conference, Alex Gilady, a member of the International Olympics Committee and the Vice President of NBC Sports, noted that "Sports remains the premium content that viewers have proven they are willing to pay for. In 25 years time, we are not sure whether commercial free-to-air programming will still exist. But we do know that pay-TV (and premium sports TV) will still be around."

The value of the television rights that underpin the global sports market was highlighted by Phil Lines, the head of International broadcasting and media operations FA Premier League, "In 2003, our total revenue from overseas broadcast rights went up from just over 170 million pounds to more than 300 million pounds for three years. We sell the rights to 25 countries in Asia providing 31 per cent of our total worldwide audience. Given that we are nearly always shown on pay TV channels in Asia this is a remarkable feat."

In the run up to the Olympics in 2008 Beijing Olympic Broadcasting COO Ma Guo Li said, "We are in a very important time right now. But the true outcome of the Beijing Olympics won't be felt until long afterwards. Then we will see what we have achieved and how it will change China's sports TV industry forever."

At the conclusion of the conference, Marcel Fenez, the chairman of CASBAA, thanked co-organisers CCTV-5 and CITV, as well as the official Host, SARFT. "This event, the second in a series as we run-up to the Beijing Olympics, has demonstrated once again the strength of China's sports TV industry, as well as its regional importance," he said.

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