Mo­bile firms feed off CCTV’s FIFA cov­er­age

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By GAO YUAN gaoyuan@chi­

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, andWeb 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 pre­vi­ousWorld 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.

Ten­cent­wasa­mongthe 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. Inc also came up with a new­tac­tic to lure traf­fic since the Web por­tal couldn’t air live matches on its own. It inked a deal with China Tele­com Corp Ltd to pro­vide the mo­bile traf­fic used to watch CCTV’s of­fi­cial live we­b­cast free of charge. An­a­lysts said Sohu’s move was the first pub­lic try­out of waiv­ing traf­fic charges for mo­bile users. In­dus­try reg­u­la­tors have en­cour­agedWeb com­pa­nies to pur­chase traf­fic fees from tele­com car­ri­ers ahead of time and then dis­trib­ute them to in­di­vid­ual smart­phone users free of charge.

Com­pa­nies such as LeTV In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy Co and Qi­hoo 360 Tech­nol­ogy Co Ltd also an­nounced World Cup strate­gies for their mo­bile businesses.

In­dus­try in­sid­ers busi­ness model for firms re­mains al­though dif­fer­ent said the In­ter­net

sim­ple types of part­ner­ships were made pub­lic.

Sell­ing ad­ver­tis­ing slots re­mains the ma­jor rev­enue source for Web com­pa­nies, in­dus­try con­sul­tancy iRe­search Con­sult­ing Group said.

“Based on the ex­pe­ri­ence of the 2010 World Cup, more than 85 per­cent of Chi­nese ne­ti­zens will pay at­ten­tion to the event. This alone is a per­fect rea­son for ad­ver­tis­ers to spend big this sum­mer,” said iRe­search.

In ad­di­tion, the com­pany said more than 60 per­cent of Web users will pay ex­tra at­ten­tion to on­line ad­ver­tise­ments dur­ing the month­long World Cup.

With so much at stake, CCTV is on high alert, de­fend­ing its in­ter­ests dur­ing the event.

On Wed­nes­day, the sta­tion is­sued a strongly worded warn­ing about unau­tho­rized on­line match video shar­ing.

“No news or­ga­ni­za­tion, en­ter­prise or in­di­vid­ual should show game con­tent of any kind on TV, ra­dio, the In­ter­net, IPTV or mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tions un­til the end of 2014,” CCTV said.

Un­like the­World Cup it­self, more than one top video site will de­clare vic­tory af­ter the event wraps up: Small, il­le­gal live stream­ing do­mains are also likely to get a cut from the huge ad­ver­tis­ing mar­ket that the world’s big­gest soc­cer tour­na­ment has helped cre­ate.

A quick search of “World Cup live we­b­cast” on pop­u­lar search en­gine Baidu gave more than 100 mil­lion re­sults. Novice sites pro­vid­ing unau­tho­rized live ser­vices line up be­low pop­u­lar plat­forms such as Sina, Letv and QQ.

A dozen or so video apps on Ap­ple Inc’s iOS also promised to pro­vide live stream­ing of the games, most of which did not sign a part­ner­ship deal with CCTV. The num­ber of such apps on An­droid-based de­vices should be sig­nif­i­cantly higher due to weak reg­u­la­tory mea­sures on the open-source plat­form.

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