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The purpose of this blog is for my personal use. It serves as my personal diary as I investigate Chinese internet/gaming companies for investment purpose. If you have any comments or disagreement, please give me feedbacks.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Battle of the Olympics, part1 - Background

Olympics is probably going to be the biggest driver for earning growth for the portals all the way until next summer. While all the portals will benefit from this once in a lifetime event, not all will benefit the same.

Last year, we have a similar event for the World Cup. Back then, Sohu was the official sponsor for the World Cup in China. Sohu spent a lot of money to be the sponsor. But since World Cup organizers won’t give Sohu much special previledge, it was Sina (because it is the largest portal in China) who get most of the benefit. The money Sohu spent to be the official sponsor were completely wasted.

For 2008, Sohu is again the official sponsor. From the experience of last year’s World Cup, most analysts thought it will be a repeat story again.

But this time, I think Sohu gets smart. She is pushing for special right to be an Olympic sponsor. She is also trying to get other perks though her role as the operator of official Olympics website. Using that role, she hooked up with China Interactive Sports and CCTV to get Sohu’s reporters into the Olympics village.

Sohu is also trying to push Beijing Olympics Committee to exclude other internet companies to do Olympics related activities.

On 8/23/2007, Beijing Olympics Committee officially confirmed Sohu’s right as an Olympic sponsor, see the following article:


In the above article, the vice director of the marketing department of the Beijing Olympics Committee gave two examples of what is not allowed:

The first example is not Sohu specific.

In the second example he gave, there is an ad that said “It is two years from Beijing Olympics, what is your thought?, co-sponsored by Beijing TV and Sina”. In it, it said “will report on Beijing Olympics work that day and other related celebrations”.

It is not allowed because Sina is not an official sponsor.

But still, his example is pretty vague and Sina still insists that she is not affected whatsoever. Sina also bring the World Olympics body to wade in.

But since the World Olympics committee is not involved in this argument, it strikes me as Sina’s attempt to confuse people.

The arguments is not whether Sohu has exclusive right to report in the USA, Russian, etc. The arguments is whether Sohu has certain advantage in reporting Olympics in China. For that, it is the Beijing Olympics committee (and not the world body) that holds all the cards.

On 9/7/2007, Sina had a press conference to brief reporters of her Olympics strategy. Not to be outdone, on 9/10/2007, Sohu had a press conference to do the same.

This is a four part report. This article sets up the background for this Olympiad struggle. In part 2, I will give a briefing on Sina's press conference. In part 3, I will give a briefing on Sohu's press conference. In the final part 4, I will provide my final thought.

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