• The Chinese Super League is one of the biggest sports media rights prizes in the country.

The Chinese Super League is one of the biggest sports media rights prizes in the country. (Photo : YouTube Screenshot)

China's growing interest in sports has opened new opportunities for companies as the battle for sports media rights intensifies.

The most popular sporting events

The boom of the Chinese Super League is considered to be the biggest boom for sports broadcasting in China, EJ Insight reported. From as little as an $81,000 annual broadcast fee during its initial run in 1994, the CSL has since ballooned into a $10 million to $12 million bidding competition for the league's broadcast rights.

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State television network CCTV held the rights for the league during its early years, hence the low fees. However, competition from another influential state-controlled broadcaster, the Shanghai Media Group, brought the cost of the bidding game higher during the early 2000s.

A spate of controversies concerning match-fixing temporarily halted the growth and even led the profits to nosedive. But by 2015, competition for CSL broadcasting rights once again flourished. Li Ruigang, former head of the Shanghai Media Group is credited as the one being responsible for the renaissance.

In 2009, Li formed a new entity, the China Media Capital Group (CMC), which quickly rose to prominence thanks to the backing of state-run policy banks and mega funds.

CMC made the then-biggest bid for the ASL's broadcast rights by offering $1.2 billion bid in 2015. The bid consisted of a five-year contract amounting to $232 million each year. The bid was significantly larger than the ones presented by other bidders.

More sports-related businesses emerge

Along with the staggering TV rights, the CSL also proved to be a hit for online broadcasting. Internet company LeTV bagged a $391 million two-year contract to stream the games over the Web.

Another company that has made considerable investments in sports is the Dalian Wanda Group, which has made some significant forays into the European football scene, Master Insight reported. The conglomerate has taken over Swiss-based company Infront, which is one of the media distribution arms of the World Cup.

Aside from football, Wanda has also bought a stake in the World Triathlon Corporation, as well as secured sponsorships deals with FIBA for baseball and UCI for cycling.