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Tuesday, January 12, 2016, 09:19

Sina to broadcast Man Utd's TV channel in China

By Qiu Quanlin in Guangzhou
Sina to broadcast Man Utd's TV channel in China
Screenshot from w (Provided to China Daily)

Sina Sports, the online sports content division of Internet giant Sina Corp, has reached a long-term deal with Manchester United to provide the English Premier League giant's video content to Chinese soccer fans.

The partnership will see the club's 24-hour digital channel, MUTV, go live on Sina Sports from Jan 17, becoming the first exclusive Premier League club channel to be broadcast on the Chinese mainland.

Both sides claimed the partnership would help create a new experience for soccer fans in watching and understanding the sport, and boost the English side's commercial activities in the fast-developing Chinese sports market.

Richard Arnold, United's group managing director, said the partnership would allow the club to interact with Chinese fans in new and innovative ways.

"MUTV broadcasting in China is not only a first for United, but also a first for any 24-hour dedicated Premier League club channel," he said, without detailing the value of the deal.

A joint news conference is scheduled for Beijing on Jan 17.

MUTV first aired in 1998 and provides United fans with exclusive access to first team player interviews, and those with management and coaching staff, documentaries, historic games and pre- and post-match analysis, as well as highlights of all the team's matches.

Wei Jianglei, senior vice-president of Sina Sports, said: "We are excited to see how this great club will grow its following through this partnership in China.

"This will make great strides at changing the way Chinese followers watch and understand the game."

There are an estimated 108 million Man United fans in China. Soccer commentators said they were hopeful the deal would help consolidate the club's commercial base in a country which has already outlined wide-ranging plans to expand the sports industry, especially soccer.

Xie Liang, a veteran soccer commentator with Radio Guangdong, said the landmark deal not only benefits Chinese fans but also creates more commercial opportunities for both sides.

The new signing marks the latest involving Chinese and Premier League interests.

Last month, City Football Group, which owns Manchester City, announced a $400 million investment from a Chinese consortium led by China Media Capital Holdings Co, that buys it a 13 percent stake and values CFG at $3 billion.

Manchester City Chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak said the move will "leverage the incredible potential that exists in China".

LeTV Holdings Co Ltd, a major Chinese online content provider, has also just renewed a deal for the 2016-19 rights to the Premier League on the mainland, according to media reports.

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