China’s CTV Launches HD Subscription Service for the Olympics

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China Network Television (CNTV), the digital arm of China Central Television (CCTV), has partnered with NeuLion to deliver 5600 hours live coverage of the London Olympics to a domestic audience in HD for the first time.

With a population of 1.3 billion, China's consumer market is forecast to become the second largest in the world by 2015. NeuLion hopes to capitalise on the infrastructure and the partnerships it has put in place in country for the Games.

CNTV will cover the Games via its new premium service dubbed 5+ VIP that integrates the content of the number one Chinese sports TV platform, CCTV5, with exclusive distribution rights for 80 percent of the new media intellectual property resources that cover the top sporting events.

CNTV is claiming to be the only country in the world to both distribute and broadcast all 5,600 hours which Olympic Broadcast Services will supply.

Live streaming specialist NeuLion will distribute between six to nine live sports streams including gymnastics, tennis, swimming, and track and field across internet and mobile platforms, as well as distributing the linear host feed for CTV's TV viewers.

The online service will be premium HD access on PC and mobile devices, featuring DVR and playback capability plus in-game highlights and stats.

"Historically, streaming video in China has been free and running at 300 to 500kbs, but this subscription service is all live and in HD on all devices at 1.6Mb or higher," says Chris Wagner, executive vice president and co-founder of NeuLion."We worked with CTV to stream the 2012 UEFA Euro Championships into China and tested the infrastructure for the Olympics during that event."

NeuLion will capture Olympic signals directly from CNTV from its own data centre in Beijing, encode or transcode the signals, and deliver them across NeuLion's own infrastructure in the country.

"The platform will be there post-Olympics so CNTV can continue to use it for all the sports content rights it buys," adds Wagner. "The sheer size and potential to expand new digital services in China is enormous. Our technology and video infrastructure in China represents a strong foundation for other content owners interested in leveraging the opportunities here in China."

The New York City-headquartered company employs 300 people, a third of which are now based in China.

In a statement, WenBin Wang, general manager of CNTV, said: "Our partnership with NeuLion helps us create a leading digital experience for our viewers. The interest in the Olympics here in China is big and our audience will be very excited by the first premium HD digital service CNTV and NeuLion have created for our Olympics fans."

NeuLion posted revenues of $10.4 million for the quarter ending March 31, 2012, up 5 percent year-on-year.

NeuLion recently launched NBA.TV, comprising live game coverage, interactive features, and video-on-demand content, and also launched a digital video portal and embeddable video player for the golf specialty Back9Network.

It also partnered with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to deliver NHL highlight packages, including goal highlights and three-minute end-game recaps for Hockey Night In Canada, starting with the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

In college athletics, NeuLion extended partnerships with Mississippi State and the University of Pennsylvania, providing those schools with video integration on Facebook, live highlight editing, and additional mobile applications. It further announced a multi-year partnership with Indiana University to provide a campus-wide online ticketing platform.

Under its TV everywhere marketing brand the company created an online viewing experience for Toronto Raptors games that includes access to live action on multiple devices for Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet ONE subscribers. It also delivered a net-based pay-per-view service for the Major League Fishing Challenge Cup (part of the Outdoor Channel).

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