The weekend saw Sky present two live matches from the CSL for the first time.
They were rewarded with one of the games of the season on Saturday when Shanghai Shenhua twice came from behind before deservedly beating Jiangsu Suning 3-2.
Sunday was the 3-3 thriller between Guangzhou R&F and Shanghai SIPG. An exciting finish included three goals in the last 15 minutes as the points were shared at Yuexiushan Stadium.
But while viewers were exposed to a great deal of entertainment on the pitch, how was the coverage and how did it compare to other leagues broadcasted by Sky?
Comparison of coverage:
|Competition||Match||Studio based pundits||Time allocated|
|Shanghai Shenhua v Jiangsu Suning||No||120 mins|
|Portland Timbers v Sporting Kansas City||No||130 mins|
|Groningen v Feyenoord||No||130 mins|
|Rangers v Hamilton||Yes||180 mins|
|Hearts v Celtic||Yes||150 mins|
|Fulham v Newcastle||Yes||195 mins|
|QPR v Leeds||Yes||150 mins|
|Barcelona v Leicester||Yes||150 mins|
*In bold are the first live fixtures of the new season for those competitions, which will likely explain the extra time dedicated to them.
As you can see from the table above, the CSL has the least and minimum amount of time dedicated to its coverage compared to other leagues. The Monday Night Football, which should be the ambition of Chinese television’s football coverage, looks only at the English Premier League and would normally be 240 minutes long. That’s because the expert pundits – currently a special guest plus Jamie Carragher after Gary Neville took then lost the Valencia job last year – would provide concise yet detailed analysis of the teams involved in that night’s particular match as well as a review of the weekend’s key moments.
The CSL will never receive such attention from Sky in England, and nor will any other league. So the CSL will need to have ambitions of being covered more than the likes of MLS and Eredivisie, hence why they were included in the above table.
If they can one day have a studio based team and two commentators, plus the natural increase in time slot, then the CSL will be a great deal closer to achieving its goal of being amongst the world’s top five leagues.
It began five minutes prior to kick-off as the players were walking out of the tunnels ahead of the obligatory national anthem. The solitary commentator employed to cover the game went through the starting line-ups of both sides with some background information.
Unfortunately, whilst it was clear the commentator for Shenhua’s game had done some research on the players and sides involved, he did make several mistakes.
Those errors included Hulk’s new team, which he said was Henan Jianye instead of Shanghai SIPG. He also wrongly referenced Roger Martinez when talking about Shenhua replacing the goals that the injured Demba Ba would often provide. Another example was Shenhua’s run of form, which saw four wins and three losses from the last seven. The commentator claimed that all four wins were at home but one of those was a recent 1-0 victory away at Shandong Luneng Taishan.
But mistakes are more likely during live events and the commentator did add his own enthusiasm to proceedings, which only improved the viewing experience.
Sunday’s commentator did a very good job with clear knowledge and insight into CSL matters. He was also accurate with both teams when referencing their players.
On both occasions, the commentators were never seen but it would be them providing the half-time and full-time analysis with the support of highlight reels.
The great atmosphere – the best in the league in my opinion – was noticeable during Shanghai Shenhua’s Yangtze Delta Derby with Jiangsu Suning. The fact it is a football stadium rather than athletics also helps so fingers-crossed more of the same will be on show when Shanghai Shenhua v Guangzhou Evergrande is shown on Saturday 13th August.
Unfortunately for the CSL, the next fixtures to be broadcast live coincide with the opening weekend of the English Premier League season. This will probably see a drop in viewing numbers as British supporters tune in to watch their own sides start the 2016/17 season.
In the meantime, all the CSL can do is continue providing enjoyable matches to its supporters and hopefully persuade many first time viewers to remain interested.