Mobile firms feed off CCTV's FIFA coverage

Updated: 2014-06-13 07:22

By GAO YUAN (China Daily)

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Mobile firms feed off CCTV's FIFA coverage

Soccer cheerleaders help promote smartphones, with apps for FIFA World Cup, in Shanghai on Wednesday. Internet companies are trying to score big from the world's most popular sporting event with mobile Internet services. [Photo/China Daily]

As Brazil and Croatia compete for the first point in the kickoff match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Chinese Internet companies are joining an equally intense head-to-head scuffle at home, trying to score big from the world's most popular sporting event that happens every four years.

Mobility, a winning ingredient for a soccer game, also is the key word in Web firms' World Cup playbooks this summer.

Mere days before whistles blow in Sao Paulo's Arena Corinthians, e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's cloud-computing subsidiary said it was launching a mobile application with China Central Television to provide "the nation's only" live stream webcast of matches for mobile users.

The number of daily users of the app is likely to break 10 million, according to the developer.

Think CCTV as team Brazil in the soccer arena. China's longtime No 1 TV network took in approximately 1 billion yuan ($161 million) in advertising profits from the 2010 World Cup.

To buy the rights to air the 2010 and 2014 World Cups from FIFA, CCTV spent $115 million five years ago. New deals are yet to be announced.

"CCTV will focus on content production during the World Cup, and Web companies such as Alibaba will take care of the technical problems," said Wang Wenbin, head of Alibaba's cloud unit.

Working with CCTV is a difficult deal for many companies, which end up being secondary webcasters under the broadcasting Godzilla.

For example, Tencent Holdings Ltd, a big spender in the webcasting sector, couldn't provide live match video in China this summer because CCTV refused to sell live stream broadcasting rights to other platforms.

Local video websites were forced to purchase match webcasting rights from CCTV, but only top-tier sites can afford the stratospheric licensing fees. Six Chinese websites purchased replay rights of the previous World Cup in 2010 from CCTV. Each site ended up paying CCTV 1.5 million yuan.

Prices for Brazil World Cup replay and on-demand match replay rights remain unknown.

Tencent was among the seed teams who had pockets deep enough to cut such a deal with CCTV.

Only able to webcast replays online, the company, based in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, decided to bypass the wall CCTV put up. It announced it would bridge its online video platform, mobile app and social networking resources together for the soccer event this summer to provide "a fresh game watching experience". The company will exploit its popular social networking apps, including WeChat and the mobile edition of QQ, to let fans discuss the game and predict scores. WeChat has roughly 600 million users globally.

Mobile firms feed off CCTV's FIFA coverage
Mobile firms feed off CCTV's FIFA coverage
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