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Moving the goalposts: Sports fans in China abandon TV for the internet

  • Staff Reporter
  • 2012-12-20
  • 08:43 (GMT+8)
PPTV's sports portal. (Internet photo)

PPTV's sports portal. (Internet photo)

As more sports fans in China turn to the internet for live and on-demand broadcasts, the sun might be about to set on China's national sports channel CCTV-5.

PPTV, a peer-to-peer video sharing website, has become the country's leading online sports center, though it offers much more than sports. Users can view live match streams, archived full matches, highlight clips but also movies, serial dramas and other non-sporting content. The site functions as an online home base for sports enthusiasts in the country, the Chinese-language Global Entrepreneur magazine reports.

According to the magazine, PPTV saw a staggering 30 million viewers tune in for the final of the UEFA Champions League this year. During the European football tournament, PPTV broadcast to Chinese fans equivalent to 40% of CCTV-5's viewership. The live coverage has also produced a 300% return on investment for the site, says Beijing-based research firm CTR.

PPTV is China's second biggest online video platform by number of users. The site is accessed by more than 34 million viewers daily, trailing only Youku, China's answer to YouTube, in the third quarter of this year according to Iresearch China, an internet industry market researcher.

Company CEO Vincent Tao believes his strategy of allowing people to watch sports online without charge sets PPTV apart from its competitors.

Since 2010, PPTV has developed its technology and become a world pioneer in allowing viewers to stream videos to and from almost any internet-connected device including smartphones and tablet computers. Director Zhou Liang told Global Entrepreneur that PPTV accounts for 24% of the entire population watch sports using a mobile device.

Tao said the site will be more than just an online TV service. "We have to offer more to our viewers. We are going to provide our online viewers an interactive experience. The internet is a two-way street, we have to involve our viewers."

In the future, Tao plans to allow viewers to engage in conversations with sideline broadcasters and sports analysts. "We have a long way ahead to achieve our goals," said Tao.

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