Hong Kong sports marketing company China Sports Program Syndicating (CSS) has entered into an eight-year agreement with China Educational Television to operate the mainland's first all-sports channel. China Sports Broadcasting Network (CSBN) is to be launched in the mainland in February. Initially, it will carry eight hours of sports programming a week. CSBN - jointly-owned by China Educational Television, China Sports Film and Television and China Sports Industry - will provide local sports programming within Greater China. CSS chief executive Lawrence Lo said the company planned to invest $100 million in the venture and hoped to reach operational break-even within 18 months. 'There is a huge sports market in the mainland,' he said. 'Since there is ESPN in the United States, why not a China sports channel? 'In the next eight years, we are going to have the football World Cup in East Asia, the Asian Games in Hong Kong, and possibly the Olympics in [the] mainland in 2008.' Mr Lo said these events would help spur interest in sports as entertainment in the mainland. While professional sports there were not as mature as in some overseas markets, he said, it hosted many high-level regional sports events. 'These events enjoy high viewership and the level of sports marketing and advertising is very high,' Mr Lo said. Under the terms of the deal, CSS will underwrite the cost of the project, while China Educational Television will contribute equipment and production facilities. Advertising sales and marketing will be the responsibility of CSS. At first, CSS will provide only one hour of sports programming a night, beginning at 7.30, with one additional floating hour a week. It will broadcast educational programmes the rest of the day. Mr Lo said sports programming would be increased steadily over time. 'The plan is to become a 24-hour channel within three years,' he said. South China Athletic Association president Albert Hung Cho-hong is a 50 per cent partner in CSS, Mr Lo said. 'At present, the company is a 50:50 set-up between myself and Mr Hung,' he said.