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Media News

China's Sina gets in shape for online Olympics

LONDON (Reuters) - Sina.com, China’s top Internet portal, is spending “a few million dollars” on infrastructure and online video content for this summer’s Olympic Games, said one of its top executives on Thursday.

The Beijing Games sees the first online video rights viewable only in China granted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). In many markets, such as the U.S., the IOC bundles together web broadcast and TV rights.

“We expect 10 to 20 million internet users in total to watch the Olympic Games in China via video streaming simultaneously. And we are investing tens of millions yuan to upscale our bandwidth to cope with the demand,” said Chen Tong, executive vice-president and editor-in-chief at Sina.

China, home to the world’s biggest internet market in terms of users, will have an online population of 300 million by the end of this year, according to the State Council Information Office (SCIO), the country’s internet regulator, up from 230 million at the end of February.

Internet firms are scrambling to provide video streaming and see the Games as an opportunity to grab a slice of the country’s soaring online advertising spend, worth $1.3 billion last year.

Chen expects online advertising to make up 3 percent of the country’s total ad spend this year, 1 percentage point above the current level.

Sina will be able to handle up to four million internet users simultaneously accessing its video services by the time of the Games in August, against one million now.

The company is paying “a few million U.S. dollars” to state-owned CCTV for the rights and is adding 200 to 300 editorial staff to prepare for the event.

Analysts expect Sina to benefit from Olympic activity and generate around 30 percent revenue growth over the next few years.

Editing by David Hulmes

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