IMG Inks Olympic Deal

With the Beijing Summer Olympic Games looming, China’s national broadcaster and sports marketing company IMG announced a partnership to produce and broadcast sporting events in China.

The new venture, CCTV-IMG Sports Management Co., will produce events as well as TV and multimedia programming to present the events to Chinese viewers, a potential market of 680 million people.

The agreement, which will last for 20 years, is the first such venture ever in China.

IMG Sports Media is the world’s largest independent producer of sports programming and CCTV operates 17 television channels, including one devoted to sports 24 hours a day.

The timing is fortuitous, as the excitement surrounding the Olympics has greatly increased the fan base for televised sports. Before the Olympics, most of the better sports programming came from foreign sources, in particular National Basketball Association games, which are extremely popular thanks in part to the fame of Houston Rockets center Yao Ming.

In 2005, News Corporation and Viacom attempted a similar sort of joint venture with Chinese broadcasters but the deal never materialized because of regulatory obstacles.

The Olympic Games take place August 8-24.