Duke University’s GoDuke.com will broadcast Saturday’s basketball game against the University of Virginia in Mandarin Chinese.
For the first time in Atlantic Coast Conference history, the website will air a free live and on-demand audio play-by-play of the game in Chinese. The broadcast will air at 2 p.m. (EST) in the U.S., and 3 a.m. in China.
“China is the biggest country in the world,” said Steve Kirschner, associate athletic director of athletic communications at UNC-CH. “If you are interested in expanding your presence, that’s the way to do it.”
Tom Martineau, a research associate at UNC, said the University has a similar project in the works.
He said in an e-mail he is working on getting both UNC-Duke games broadcast in Shanghai — the first time a major Chinese network would broadcast a NCAA regular season game.
Rob McKinney, director of operations for GoDuke.com, said Duke hopes to expand its global presence with the broadcast.
“For right now, they are just trying to have fun with it,” said Duke student John Sheng. He will announce the game along with fellow students Jesse Sun and Yunze Chen.
Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations at Duke, said the initiative has been discussed since this fall and is part of Duke’s effort to globalize its image.
“Every major University — UNC included — is looking at creating a more global presence,” Schoenfeld said.
He said China’s rapid growth and economic, political and cultural dynamism make it especially important.
Because ESPN owns the rights to the Duke game’s television broadcast, only an audio broadcast will be aired in Chinese.
“UNC is looking into the possibility of doing a TV broadcast, but we’d have to look into who has the rights to the game broadcast,” said Larry Gallo, senior associate athletic director at UNC.
Niklaus Steiner, director of the Center for Global Initiatives at UNC, said basketball could be a good way to raise attention for Duke and UNC.
“As a first step, sports are good because they are easy to export,” he said.
He said many American universities are trying to expand their worldwide presence to attract a global talent pool.
“Very few universities are well-known abroad,” Steiner said. He said UNC is working to make its international reputation match its reputation in the U.S.
“That is sort of the game right now,” he said.
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