Looking to gain a foothold in perhaps the fastest-growing sports market, the NFL is using pop culture as an entry point in China and launching a reality series with a youth band.
Tabbed "NFL China Blitz," viewers will watch the band members of "May Day" get introduced to American football through NFL-themed events.
The 30-minute show will run 16 episodes, with cameras following the band in the U.S. It debuts Oct. 29 and runs through February. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The series is part of a multifaceted deal the NFL has with Chinese broadcaster CCTV (China Central Television). It also includes production of a weekly highlights show and rights to offer this season's Super Bowl.
The weekly highlights show will have Chinese sportscasters delivering an NFL-prepared script.
U.S. sports-marketing firm IMG was involved in the negotiations as part of its 20-year joint venture with CCTV to develop various sports ventures in China, including in Hong Kong and Macau.
Both CCTV IMG Sports and the NFL can sell sponsorships for the programming and syndication rights.
American-style football has had difficulty gaining popularity in Europe and elsewhere. Yet no sports league can ignore the lure of the Chinese market. (The NBA seems to have made the most inroads.)
And the NFL's top media executive Steve Bornstein said the league remains "committed to growing our sport around the world, including China."
IMG CEO Ted Forstmann said the programming will be available to up to 800 million people.