The Protalk series is the latest digital initiative from Sina Sports aiming to create unique original content from the world’s leading sports stars to the Chinese market.
Sina Sports, China’s #1 sports network, have made this style of content a major focus after agreeing that there is currently an overemphasis on live game content in China. Sam Li, Sina Sports Head of Content Acquisition and Strategic Partnerships, previously mentioned that the majority of Chinese fans spend time consuming non-live game content. Sina Sports has recently launched an NBA Protalk series after the success of the European football version last September that featured Eden Hazard, Carlo Ancelotti and many others.
We were able to catch up with Sam Li and Dan Redford, Senior Manager, Content Acquisition and Strategic Partnerships, to discuss how this Protalk series has developed over the last few months.
1. What’s the ultimate goal of the Protalk series?
Our objective is to establish a long term brand which Chinese fans would recognize to stand for exclusive, insightful and original content. We realized that there is a lack of localized, original sports content in the Chinese market. While there is news reporting, there didn’t exist a first person narrative of sporting events. We think it’s attractive to fans to hear about sporting events from those that actually participated, or have had experience in participating in the events to talk about their first hand experiences.
Our Protalk programs feature not only current players, but also retired players, coaches and even club executives in order provide a well-rounded lineup giving in-depth as well as diversified analysis of a particular sport, game, even an important highlight or timely piece of sports news. For example, if the Warriors play the Pistons one night, the next morning you may see Draymond Green talking about the play from a player perspective, Tim Hardaway Sr. talking about his perspective from the opposite bench, and Daryl Morey discussing it from an executive level.
We also consider current events in Chinese sports and ask the program stars to chime in with their opinions. In addition, the athletes share insights from sports, but also delve into their personal lives. To help with that aspect, we solicit questions from fans on Sina Weibo who are always coming up with interesting, quirky and China-related questions for our Protalk personalities. Through this program, fans receive a much more enhanced coverage through insights from top sports personalities.
2. Where did the idea come from to target content around players not clubs and organisations?
Individual athletes add a personal touch to any sporting event. Fans, especially Chinese fans, identify strongly with individual athletes. We felt the individual athletes’ voice has not been receiving the emphasis and highlight that it deserves.
3. How does this content differ from what other sports networks are offering their fans in China?
We actually don’t see any similar original programming from other Chinese media. It is actually quite challenging bringing together foreign sports stars for a regular sport talk show localized for the Chinese market. Most of what is out there now are live broadcasts, highlights, and sports programs merely adapted for China.
4. What do you look for in the talent that you select for the Protalk series?
What is important to us is that the individual really is interested and invested in the program, as well as maintaining a cast of diverse perspectives. Our Protalk program for European football brings together a very diverse cast. Carlo Ancelotti is the veteran strategist, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard is the superstar, and then you have Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel and England’s golden boy Michael Owen who bring a wealth of in-game experience and knowledge to the table.
5. You’ve currently launched both football and basketball Protalk series, what other sports would are you targeting?
We do have a program focusing on the upcoming Olympics that has already been launched in a similar format. That program has a star-studded line-up that includes Chinese legends Lin Dan and Lang Ping, as well as being headlined by Michael Phelps.
6. Can you give us a clue about anyone new that you’re close to announcing?
We should have an announcement for an important addition to our Olympic programming sometime soon. Stay tuned！