SBD/September 12, 2012/Colleges

Pac-12 Conference, Networks In Position To Establish Foothold In China

The Pac-12 Conference and the Pac-12 Networks are “well-situated to establish a foothold in China, broadcasting games and selling merchandise to an enormous, sports-hungry market,” according to David Wharton of the L.A. TIMES. While the Pac-12 “simply cannot match rivals such as the Southeastern and Big Ten when it comes to rabid fans,” but with schools “dotted along the Pacific Rim, it can pursue a different sort of consumer." Univ. of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Managing Dir Paul Swangard said the Pac-12 is in position to share the market if only because "you cannot ignore geography." Wharton noted thousands of Chinese students “attend Pac-12 universities, so people in the Far East are familiar with the schools.” The UCLA men’s basketball team’s recent exhibition tour in China “represented a trial run in what could become an annual exchange between the Pac-12 and the Federation of University Sports of China (FUSC), with teams crisscrossing the Pacific Ocean.” But basketball is “only part of the potential collaboration.” The conference -- “strong in Olympic sports -- might find an audience for volleyball, water polo and gymnastics.” If deals “can be negotiated with Chinese television, the Pac-12 has a wealth of broadcast content to send abroad.” As part of a “so-called globalization initiative, the conference hired Shanghai native Carrie Xu to help with marketing.” Sources said that the NBA and others have “discovered that doing business in China can be difficult, and the league has not enjoyed the quick success it initially envisioned.” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said, "When you're thinking in terms of China, you have to think long-term" (L.A. TIMES, 9/11).
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