John Yan: 赛事直播多频时代 A multi-screen age for football in China

赛事直播多频时代

关于欧洲的顶级足球联赛,中国球迷的幸运程度,要在欧洲球迷之上——只要你有足够多时间和足够大的兴趣,你可以看到绝大部分顶级欧洲足球职业赛事。

8月18日,一个全新的免费体育赛事频道,将出现在央视的频道矩阵当中,名为"5+",意指CCTV5之外的又一个体育频道。央视体育中心主任江和平在介绍"5+"时,用"全赛事全高清全天候全开路"进行概括,"全开路"就说明了这个频道的免费性质。

在体育赛事版权资源上,央视有着得天独厚的领先地位,然而一个单一体育频道,在电视这样的线性媒体结构中,越来越呈现出直播空间不够的短缺。央视在北京奥运会结束后,就有再开一个体育赛事频道的打算,如今终于实现。具体的赛事资源分配,5套与5+之间的角色定位,还需要在运行过程中实践,对体育迷而言,在全国范围内多了一个体育赛事直播频道,当然是好消息。

然而在媒体市场的竞争格局上,5+的出现,对于近年生存艰难的各地方台体育频道而言,则未必是好消息。不论是资源构成、制播水准、市场影响力还是广告收益,地方台体育频道长期受制,央视的体育播出渠道得以扩充,地方台体育频道的生存空间势必再受挤压。在5+出台前,又有了央视和英超中国地区版权方谈判的消息,如果英超最终也能落户央视,那么地方台的体育赛事资源将再遭重创。

只是短期内,央视和英超实现直播合作还不太现实,这或许能让地方台体育频道们稍微放松心情。央视体育中心在2012年已经和欧足联续约欧冠的全视频独家合作,继续保持对欧冠这一全球最高水准职业足球赛事在中国大陆地区的垄断地位,其余欧洲联赛,央视还有德甲西甲意甲版权,法甲由于影响力略微滞后,央视和地方台都没有涉足。欧洲足球版图里,唯有英超每个赛季的38轮直播比赛,能在北京上海广州等地方台体育频道收看。

西甲在中国大陆地区的影响力,随着巴萨皇马的强势,逐年都在上升,西甲版权价格也在提高中。这一联赛版权,央视和地方台属于共享状态,逐轮享有赛事挑选权。

5+的出现,或许短期内不会对欧洲联赛版权资源产生太大影响,但是央视以往无法通过直播消化的非足球赛事资源,得到这个新播出空间后,肯定会满足更多不同类型体育迷的媒体消费需求。这样的变化,有可能形成体育受众群的进一步分化,央视聚焦的作用,在体育媒体产品上,将会得到更大发挥。

传统媒体对于体育版权资源的争夺,由于固有体制存在,尚不如商业化媒体之间激烈。足球之欧洲各顶级联赛、篮球之NBA,在互联网媒体上的呈现和分布,要比电视更加丰富。四大门户网站对欧冠、英超西甲意甲德甲,从每周赛制直播到每轮赛事集锦再到原创栏目性节目,这一个夏天又有着新的变化。法甲虽然没有电视播出空间,但在专业类视频网站如乐视便有所呈现。

免费播出,仍然是电视及新媒体的主要体育版权资源经营模式,通过提供高品质赛事资源,吸引受众人群,然后再通过广告及商业赞助方式,实现商业收入。但优质稀缺性版权资源,例如英超,虽然此前有过天盛不成功的收费播出模式,如今又出现了向收费模式转化的迹象:

新英体育,是中国大陆地区英超赛事资源版权方,这个周末开赛的英超2013—14赛季,新英仍然会出售英超直播版权给各地方台、四大门户网站以及视频网站,但新英也在构建自己的英超网络直播平台,并且将38轮380场英超赛事,按照不同的赛事对手和赛程,分割为不同直播赛事资源包裹,根据不同球迷诉求,设置一些收费赛事资源。这样的尝试,和天盛当年一下子让英超从中国开路电视及互联网的免费播出状态消失不同,动作更为谨慎,范围也更小,但这代表的仍然是稀缺性资源自身的可售贩性。一两个赛季运营下来,付费模式的可持续性,多少能得到一些证明。

John Yan: A multi-screen age for football in China

Being a European football fan in China could be very lucky. If you have enough time, you could watch most of the live matches of all the top European leagues here.

On August 18, a new national open circuit television channel began broadcasts on the CCTV platfrom, the China Central Television Station. It will be called CCTV 5+ channel - CCTV 5 is the well known national sports channel. For the past several years, it is has been impossible for CCTV 5 to present all the domestic and international sports content available - the pay tv model has not worked in the restricted Chinese TV market - but CCTV 5+'s birth could be a positive signal to the national sports audience.

But not to the local tv stations. The local tv stations sports channel, whether Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou, has long been living in the great shadow of CCTV 5, now their living space will be further compressed.

This is a weird media structure. Basically, all TV stations are state owned in China, and under the ideology supervision of the propaganda department of the party. While CCTV reports to the Party's central propoganda dept, local stations report to their local leaders, and a limited competitive relationship exists between all these stations.

One outstanding competitive edge the local stations have, is the live rights of the English Premier League, which CCTV never has the intention to purchase.

But CCTV 5+ does need some fresh blood, and CCTV started to talk to the rights holders in China, Super Sports. Discussions broke down, as antiocipated, because CCTV simply could not accept the price. For almost all international sports content licensing rights, CCTV is so powerful it has control over the pricing, but not for the EPL rights, and the EPL live games are enjoying very healthy broadcast ratings in the local stations in China's first tier cities.

For the other European Leagues, local stations are sharing the live rights of Spanish La Liga, and La Liga has committed to schedule 30 to 40 fixtures at an earlier time, catering to demands of the far east. CCTV also has live rights to the Bundesliga and Italian Serie A, and most importantly of all, they have the exclusive rights in mainland China to the UEFA Champions League, though the broadcast time has always been awful in China - 3am or 4 am is the usual kick-off time.

TV is no more the main battlefields for football content consuming - internet and especially mobile internet, have begun to play bigger and bigger roles. In China, there are highlights and summaries of the Top Five European leagues, alongside the above mentioned four is France's Ligue Un. No major TV stations broadcast of the Ligue Un live, except from the Guangdong sports channel, but on internet, a video portal website called www.letv.com is becoming a lively broadcast outlet for the PSGs and Monacos.

Mobile internet, which has been the hottest media area for the past couple of years, is also very active in acquiring all kinds of top sports content. For football, a smart phone screen, even as big as a Samsung Note 2, might not be ideal for a whole match viewing, but highlights are proving popular.

Different from the failed pay TV attempts, online content providers are also planning to try the pay for content system. Super Sports, the rights holder of EPL in China, has already set up their own website, and if you are a diehard Manchester United fan in China, you can pay 198 yuan RMB (about £20) a season for 38 Manchester United matches. Super Sports are working very cautiously, in order not to enrage the consumers, but for them, the pay for content, especially high quality sports content, does have potential in China.

John Yan is Deputy Editor of Netease.com
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