Saturday, September 12, 2009

NFL Reality TV

This is a weird one.

From The Washington Post:

Image from

On a pockmarked Loudoun County field of mud and weeds, the National Football League came to sell itself to China, a country it once never believed to be interested in football. It did this in an experiment the buttoned-down league has never dared to try before, with one of Asia's most beloved rock bands running around a children's flag football game last week, trailed by a film crew, making of all things -- a reality TV show.

"We've started to understand what the code is to get into the Chinese market," said Chris Parsons, the NFL's vice president in charge of international operations. This has almost nothing to do with the game of football itself, something the NFL has had little success pushing anywhere internationally, but with something far different: American culture.

Which is how Stone, Monster, Ashin, Masa, and Ming -- the members of a Taiwanese band called Mayday -- happened to spend 10 days riding a bus around the Northeast this month, meeting cheerleaders and marching bands and playing flag football for a TV show that will run on China Central Television, or CCTV, this fall. All in the hopes of converting tens of millions of Chinese into fans of American football.

It speaks to just how desperate the NFL is to make this happen.


There is little interest in football in China, where the most popular sports are table tennis and badminton. And while many young Chinese are big fans of the NBA and English Premier League soccer, both of which are broadcast on local television, the glimpses they have gotten of American football are bewildering.

"It's like explaining cricket to us," said Chad Lewis, the former Philadelphia Eagles tight end who as a student at Brigham Young University spent two years doing his Mormon mission in Taiwan and has become familiar with China in recent years.

Read the whole article
I wrote a LONG post about the NFL in China several months ago (this post is actually one of the best I've ever written, in my opinion at least). So I'm not going to get into the details of the inherent reasons why (American) football getting big abroad will be difficult right now since I've already done so.

The use of the band super pop group Mayday to promote the NFL is bizarre. I suppose the NFL has to get creative in trying to get its product into China. But having a group of Taiwanese teeny-boppers running around NFL headquarters and schmoozing with cheerleaders with the hopes of getting the Chinese masses into the game is going to be... interesting.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would love to see the NFL actually take off in China, but I would say the odds are incredibly long.

The Commissioner was talking the other day about as many as 4 games taking place in London next year and a franchise is possible in the future. Wow, that would seem to make travel a nightmare for that team, but I'd also like to see that work. I think its a great game and it might be fun to see it internationalized. Unfortunately the behavior of many pro athletes has had me souring on sports more and more each year.