Along with a series of new measures unveiled to the public in early November, the Women’s Chinese Basketball Association (WCBA) League kicked off its new season on November 14. In the opening tip off in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, military-backed Bayi beat Shaanxi Tianze 90-58, pocketing the first victory of the new season.
For this new season, broadcasting and media reporting are two high priorities for the 2017/18 WCBA. As a groundbreaking step for both the league and internet-based media in China, the WCBA endorsed the exclusive rights to Tencent Sports, allowing the latter to act as the official broadcaster responsible for both signal production and broadcast.
As the opener of the 2017/18 WCBA tipped off, Tencent Sports started their journey in this new type of sports event broadcasting. So, what has the sports events broadcasting giant done for the first league game of the new WCBA season?
To provide live streaming of the game, Tencent Sports assembled an HD broadcast vehicle and satellite truck in Nanchang, operated by a 40-member team, while a statistical package for the league was also developed by the sports broadcasting giant. According to a representative from Tencent Sports, this situation above will be maintained throughout the season.
In terms of content broadcasted during the game, Tencent Sports gave the women’s league equal treatment similar to the NBA and the CBA. Prior to the game, Tencent Sports prepared a 30-minute warmup program for its viewers, which included court-side interviews with players and an interactive quiz about the game’s final score prediction.
After the warmup program, the opening broadcast was delivered to Tencent Sports viewers using 1080p high definition. During the broadcast, users can post their comments about the game on the Tencent Sports platform and interact with the commentators, which is common in Tencent Sports’ broadcasting of the NBA and the CBA.
Former national team member Xu Nuo was invited to be one of the commentators in the broadcasting of the 2017/18 WCBA opener. After experiencing the broadcasting process, Xu felt that women’s basketball games had received unprecedented interest in China.
Having finished their first attempt concerning both the production of the game’s signal and broadcasting online, this has been a good introduction for Tencent Sports to the world of WCBA. However, they want to do more.
According to a representative from Tencent Sports, in the future, the sports media guru will compile a technical document for their work, dividing the signal production and broadcasting into two different levels (Level A and Level B). Level A will be available for important games such as the season-opening game, the All-star games and the Playoff finals, while Level B will be more likely seen in regular season games.
Alongside this technical document, a signal-distribution team will be set up by Tencent Sports, which will focus on distributing the games’ signals to TV channels and other internet-based broadcasters who have acquired media rights to the league. This move will likely change the situation where the WCBA “suffered” before.
Over the past years, there was no regular broadcasting plan for the WCBA. As a result, the league rarely appeared on TV channels and so interest in the women’s game suffered. Regarding this situation, those women’s basketball-oriented online broadcasters were not willing to take over this “hot potato”, not to mention broadcasting it regularly.
As Tencent Sports and other sports media platforms joined the broadcaster roster of the WCBA, the league will embrace a new stage where it will be seen and liked by the public, especially the new generation.
On the other hand, this deal will also benefit Tencent Sports as it becomes a new major player in the internet-based sports media industry. Traditionally, internet-based sports media platforms declined to receive the ready-made signals and use it to deliver their live streaming. However, the endeavor shown by Tencent Sports towards the WCBA can be seen as a breakthrough to some extent.
On the other hand, internet-based media have often held a different view in the broadcast of sports events, different to traditional media and what most people have been used to. So, as a long-term perspective, it is quite difficult to predict at this moment in time what the destination of Tencent Sports’ journey with the WCBA will be like. Maybe only time will tell.
Proofread by Raymond Fitzpatrick