Hundreds of millions of Chinese enjoy watching sports on some level, but the Chinese sports market is much less organized—and commercialized—than it is in the West, especially the United States.
That appears to be a temporary situation, as sports marketing behemoth IMG Worldwide Inc has signed a landmark exclusive 20-year agreement with CCTV that gives US-based IMG rights to develop and market new sports events in mainland China, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
According to the WSJ, financial terms of the deal – which will give IMG an unparalleled competitive advantage in one of the world’s fastest-growing television markets – have yet to be disclosed and the deal is expected to be formally announced on August 7.
“The fundamental purpose of the joint venture is to marry what CCTV does in China and what IMG does all over the world,” the paper quotes Ted Forstmann, IMG’s chairman and chief executive, as saying.
CCTV’s daily audience of 680 million people is the world’s largest for any network. IMG is expected to focus on developing sports events and other entertainment events around China for broadcast on CCTV.
How big is IMG? As the WSJ puts it:
Mr Forstmann, a founding partner of buyout firm Forstmann Little & Co, acquired IMG in 2004. The company, one of the world’s largest producers and distributors of sports, owns or manages more than 4,000 sporting and entertainment events, from Wimbledon to the Australian Open. It also manages the careers of many athletes, including golfer Tiger Woods and tennis player Maria Sharapova.
“If we are successful [in China], there are going to be a whole lot of events that exist that do not exist today,” Mr. Forstmann told the WSJ.
The big question is: Will IMG be able to remold China’s sports industry, which is essentially a poorly organized state-owned enterprise, into a streamlined moneymaker like that of the United States? The answer is coming to a TV near you.
For more China sports news, check out China Sports Today.