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AFL gets Chinese TV deal done

  • Wednesday, August 25 2010 @ 04:00 pm ACST
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Asia The chief executive of the AFL Andrew Demetriou made the announcement in Melbourne. In a first for Australian sport, the Shanghai Media Group (SMG) will televise one AFL match every week live into China on International Channel Shanghai (ICS). The agreement will include the 2010 Toyota AFL finals series, including the Toyota AFL Grand Final, and the Kaspersky Cup – AFL Shanghai Showdown between Melbourne and the Brisbane Lions in Shanghai on October 17.

It will extend into the 2011 Toyota AFL Premiership season to include one AFL match each week. The agreement was made possible after the ABC and SMG recently signed a co-operation agreement between their international channels, Australia Network and ICS. As part of the agreement, ICS will produce a pre-match program to precede the broadcast of each match to give viewers information about AFL. The Australian Football League has announced a landmark agreement to broadcast AFL matches live into China.

Representatives from SMG will also travel to Melbourne during September to help prepare for the broadcast of the Kaspersky Cup – AFL Shanghai Showdown. This match will be simulcast on ICS and the Mandarin language Great Sports Channel. Mr Demetriou said the agreement was a great opportunity to expand the AFL’s international audience in one of the world’s biggest markets. “The AFL is very excited to showcase Australian football to one of the world’s biggest markets as we continue to develop the code on the international stage,” he said.

As well as staging the Kaspersky Cup – AFL Shanghai Showdown, the AFL has also launched a development program in Shanghai schools to teach young children the basics of the game and recently launched a Mandarin language website, http://www.51afl.com

The Premier Mr Brumby said the growth of Australian Football from a Victorian game to a truly national sport with followers all over the world paralleled Victoria's rise to become the world's leading city for sports and major events. “This agreement is a tremendous coup and opportunity for Victoria and will further strengthen links with our major trading partner and our friends in China,” he said.

AFL matches are already broadcast to 31 million households in 44 countries across the Asia Pacific region via the AFL’s international broadcast partner, Australia Network.

The chief executive of Australia Network, Bruce Dover, said Australia Network’s role was to explain Australia to the world and AFL showcased the qualities of teamwork, mateship, determination and inclusiveness which makes this country unique. “This historic agreement to expand the audience for Australian football to China is a significant move in helping explain Australia and Australians to the Chinese,” Mr Dover said.

“As the Chinese say, it is the first step in a journey of a thousand miles but a step in the right direction and one that represents enormous opportunity to promote AFL to a whole new audience.” Australian football contributes $3.4 billion annually to the Australian economy, with 7 million people attending AFL matches each year.

There are more than 733,000 registered participants across Australia and 53,000 players in 38 senior leagues around the world.