As the new season of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) League tips off, the league’s broadcasting platform roster has gradually been unveiled to the public – including CCTV-5, Tencent Sports, Bilibili and China Sports zhibo.tv (zhibo.tv).
For the first two platforms it is not that hard to understand why they were chosen. As the sports channel of China Central Television (CCTV), CCTV-5 has nationwide coverage in China. Tencent Sports is already an experienced broadcaster in basketball having signed a 5-year partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA).
Unlike the two big players above, Bilibili is originally based on anime, manga and game fandom and has become involved in streaming the CBA based on their partnership with the league’s Shanghai Sharks since the 2016/17 CBA season.
Obviously, zhibo.tv is a newcomer to the roster, which has surprised many practitioners in the Chinese sports industry. Under the 3-year deal with the CBA, zhibo.tv has captured the rights to stream CBA games on their website and App, as well as through their OTT services.
Founded in 2015, zhibo.tv is an internet-based live streaming platform for sports events where grassroot sports enthusiasts can act as commentators. The platform was established by SECA, a sports marketing company specializing in sports entertainment consulting, athlete brokerage, events management and sports public relations.
As the platform’s live streaming business gradually transferred to China Sports, the magazine belonging to the General Administration of Sport of China, zhibo.tv was officially renamed as China Sports zhibo.tv in 2017. After that, their story as an official partner of the CBA began.
As a response to the surprise expressed by many sports practitioners, SECA’s Founder and CEO Li Sheng has explained the reason why they wanted to get involved in the top-tier basketball league in China.
According to Li, the partnership with the CBA allows SECA to leverage the premium league’s influence in attract more sports enthusiasts to zhibo.tv, which will help the company to forge a tighter connection with fans and introduce them to other events organized or streamed by SECA. In the future, zhibo.tv will act as the link between SECA’s sports events, partners and fans, making their events more influential and valuable for their partners and fans.
On the other hand, the decision in broadcasting CBA games came from a consideration in helping the development of the domestic league. Li admits that the Chinese domestic sports leagues and sports industry are still far behind and needed to be developed over the long term. To partner with the CBA league is the right approach for SECA in helping with this development.
The media rights to the league brings new opportunities for both SECA and zhibo.tv. However, new challenges also come along with them. As the first step in meeting these challenges, SECA is speeding up the formation of an experienced team in zhibo.tv.
According to Li, the new team will be formed based on the current team working for zhibo.tv who originally came from ESPNSTAR Sports. Members of the team have been working together for over 10 years and their responsibility covers operations, content planning and editing, business development and technical supports for the platform.
In the future, SECA will expand the team by recruiting new staff members including editors, reporters, commentators and employees in content planning, business development, media and public relations.
Over the past two years, zhibo.tv has accumulated a steady fan base for various sports events covering table tennis, billiards and boxing. The platform has even become the first choice for fans of table tennis and billiards to watch live streams of these sports, which can be partly attributed to the mode allowing these fans to interact with commentators during the games.
There is no doubt that the partnership with the CBA has tipped off a new era for both zhibo.tv and its owner SECA. However, in terms of how to “localize” the top-tier games on the platform which is widely known as a “grassroot”, as well as how to maximize the CBA’s value to the platform and SECA, the company and the platform still have lot more to work on.
Proofread by Raymond Fitzpatrick