AFL to kick off China broadcasts

SMG to broadcast Australian, Shanghai games

SYDNEY -- The Australian Football League will broadcast one game per week into China after a deal was struck with the Shanghai Media Group, the AFL said Wednesday.

The broadcast deal comes into effect for this year’s finals series, which starts next month and includes the Grand Final, traditionally the most watched event on TV here each year, on September 25, along with weekly games in the 2011 season.

It also includes a Shanghai game, the Shanghai Showdown between the Melbourne Demons and the Brisbane Lions on October 17. SMG, which recently signed a program-sharing deal with the Australian Broadcasting Corp, will screen the games on its International Channel. 

"The AFL is very excited to showcase Australian football to one of the world's biggest markets as we continue to develop the code on the international stage," AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou said, announcing the deal in Melbourne Wednesday.

The AFL has also launched a development program in Shanghai schools to teach young children the basics of the game, and recently launched a Chinese-language website.

The game, based on Gaelic football, is native to Australia and is the most popular of the country’s four football codes. with more than 733,000 registered participants across Australia and 53,000 players in 38 senior leagues around the world. It is said to contribute AUS$3.4billion ($3 billion) per year to the Australian economy.
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