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The following is a summary by ToffeeWeb's resident correspondent in Hong Kong, Dave Ellis, of an article that appears in today's South China Morning Post.

Everton key to EPL coverage in China
South China Morning Post
Tuesday August 6, 2002

The front page of the business section of the South China Morning Post (the leading Hong Kong "quality" broadsheet) is running a story about English Premier League TV coverage in China. The story was previously reported in the China Business Daily (a newspaper in the Peoples Republic of China
(PRC)). After the World Cup interest in foreign football is at an
unprecedented level and as a result, China Central Television (CCTV) is
negotiating with ESPN to broadcast English Premier League soccer this

ESPN, which has the global rights for the Premier League plans to broadcast
165 live games in the Asia-Pacific region during the season. CCTV is the
PRC's equivalent of the BBC.

According to the South China Morning Post ESPN is also negotiating with
other Chinese channels. It reports that "Public interest is high because
Chinese players will compete in the Premier League for the first time - Sun
Jihai at Manchester City, Li Tie and Li Weifeng at Everton and Qu Po at
Chelsea [sic, Spurs I think] - and millions of fans supported the English
team during the World Cup.

The poor performance of the Chinese team during the tournament, in which it
did not win a game or score a goal, has diminished the interest in the local
game and heightened interest in it abroad."

CCTV earned aboutUS$47 million in advertising revenue form the World Cup and
paid only US$25million for the broadcast rights. They hope to make the same
kind of money out of the English Premier League.

It was in expectation of national live broadcasts that a Shenzhen mobile
telephone maker, Ke Jian, paid US$ 1.5million to sponsor Everton. Ke Jian
sells its products only in the domestic market.
If the games are not broadcast in China, its sponsorship is likely to be

During the past season, CCTV carried live broadcasts of German soccer on
Saturday evening and Italian soccer on Sunday evening, with the games
starting at 9pm and 9.30pm respectively, apparently attracting an audience
of millions.

Of course the English Premier League is already shown live in Hong Kong and
the arrival of Chinese players in the league is beginning to spark some
interest, especially Sun Jihai (the leading pin up in the PRC side) and Li
Tie (the best player) - a bit like Becks and Owen. Hong Kong has its own
professional soccer league but it is largely ignored by the locals in favour
of the Premier League. It looks like the same may happen in China itself. Do
not expect Everton to sell much official merchandise in the PRC though - I
think the best that can be hoped for is a lot of free advertising from the
knock-off merchants.

HK Dave