SBD/Issue 52/Sports Media

Internet, Digital TV Post-Beijing Games Winners In China

The media landscape in China since the Beijing Games “certainly indicates an expanded role for the Internet," as the Olympics "brought about real efforts by Chinese media owners to experiment with new ways to win” audiences, according to Clifford Coonan of DAILY VARIETY. Internet search engine Sohu spent $14.5M on a marketing campaign to make Sohu the “portal of choice” for the Games with the “aim of taking long-term market share from rival portals such as Tencent, NEtEase and Sina.” Also, a “big winner of the technologically sophisticated way the Games were presented was digital TV.” China “aims to switch from analog to digital by 2015,” and the “plan is for all cities to have digital cable by the end of this year, with service rolling out together cities and towns in the next couple of years.” Universal McCann China CEO Manpreet Singh: “The big surprise is how big the increase is -- five fold in some cases. The challenge is to keep the numbers up. The Olympics was event-based traffic; it will slow down.” Government control in China “remains as tight as ever,” as “market liberalization has not translated into greater freedoms for newspapers and TV stations as to what they can report, and cable TV is notoriously difficult to control.” Meanwhile, mobile phones also were “big media winners in the Games,” as one-quarter of Internet users in China “used a mobile phone as a source of information about the Olympics, which is much more use than other countries.” More than 10 million Chinese citizens "watched the Olympic Games on their mobile phone screens." But for ad agencies, the post-Olympics period is marked by “challenges ahead.” While China is “not expected to be hit as badly as other countries by the global financial crisis, it’s not a great time to be looking for ad revenues anywhere” (DAILY VARIETY, 11/26).

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