Jiangsu Sainty have been one of the more interesting sides to watch this season after their overachieving results last year. This year it’s been up and down, striker Hamdi Salihi made an instant impact in place of injured player Cristian Danalache and youngsters Sun Ke and Ji Xiang are fun to watch, however local fans of the club may find it harder to see the team play due to a dispute with the local sports station.
Despite already being into the fifth round of play, Jiangsu Sports Station has yet to sign a deal with the Chinese Super League, claiming the costs and interests are too high. It costs a television station around RMB1 million to purchase the rights to televise CSL matches and then additional fees per match, as well as wear and tear on the broadcasting vans, which can only be used for a few years.
For the club’s opening match against Wuhan Zall, the local station was forced by CSL rules to be at the match and provide a signal for other stations, however they didn’t carry the match live in Jiangsu. The station has since carried a few of the matches, but says that the audience numbers are very low. Unlike in larger cities like Beijing and Shanghai, the station is broadcasting province-wide to 78 million people, of which only eight million live in Nanjing, where the team plays and is most identified with.
Further, the station doesn’t have the rights for lucrative Asian Champions League matches that are sure to draw an audience, instead those rights are in the hands of a station out of Shanghai. The result is that Jiangsu Sports Station has looked for “support” from Sainty, namely that they’d buy advertisements on the station to make up for the costs. This isn’t completely unheard of, it’s the same reason Beijing Sports Station regularly has Baxy ice cream commercials when they are broadcasting Baxy matches.
However, the club refused to make an ad buy and the result were tit for tat tactics from the station, like referring to the team as “Jiangsu team” instead of Jiangsu Sainty and trying to avoid close ups on the front of the home team’s kit, which shows Sainty branding. This weekend, Jiangsu face off against Dalian Aerbin in a major match, once again it’s unlikely local fans will be able to watch it at home.