SHANGHAI, China -- China tuned in to an American tradition
Monday, with millions turning from their morning routine to catch,
for the first time, a glimpse of the Super Bowl as it happened with
play-by-play and commentary in Chinese.
The game was broadcast on a 1-hour tape delay on state-run
Central Television's cable sports channel. The estimated audience:
300 million people.
"It's not just the sport. It's all about American culture,"
said Michael Lu, a buying manager for a local sportswear company
watching the game at a local sports bar.
But the game's start, 7 a.m. local time, precluded most members
of the working population from sitting down to watch the New
England Patriots beat the Carolina Panthers 32-29.
"If it were on a Sunday, I'd like to watch it. It's fun seeing
those guys banging into each other," said Wei Jun, who was on his
way to work early and drove his fist into his palm to illustrate.
"But like most people, I've got to earn a living."
The game, the culmination of the NFL season, was broadcast to a
potential audience estimated by the league at 1 billion in 229
countries and territories, including China. It was carried in 21
languages, including Arabic, Cantonese, Icelandic, Russian, Serbian
For the first time, a crew from China was among the 14
television and radio stations from 10 countries broadcasting the
game on site from Houston. The China crew included Philadelphia
Eagles tight end Chad Lewis, who speaks fluent Mandarin, as its
The Super Bowl has been broadcast annually for years in many
regions of China, but never as it happened. In China, football, or
"zuqiu," generally means soccer. U.S.-style football -- also known
here as "ganlanqiu," or "olive ball" -- is viewed by many as a
uniquely American phenomenon.