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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Collins

2015 China Red Card Feature: Global Teams, Made in China

Each January we at Mailman release what is regarded as the most read report into the performance, popularity and awareness of the world’s biggest football teams ‘2015 Red Card: China Digital Football Index‘.  The below extract is taken from the editors notes on this years report.

It was 2011 when the first global football team, Liverpool FC, launched an official presence on China’s dominant social media channel Weibo. A team rich in history, culture and identity, the club demonstrated to the wider football community the appetite for European football was there.

Fast forward 4 years and we now see more than 30 active teams across China’s social media and video networks. It’s no longer Europe’s elite making an impact, we’re now seeing teams competing for fan mindshare from all regions of Europe. Teams have quickly realised that China is a key component of becoming a global team.

There were a number of winners in the Red Card 2015. German football was again a big winner with the launch of the official Bundesliga Weibo and the national team’s success at the World Cup both proved to deliver value for the German teams online. We saw Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 amass over 1,000,000 followers in under a year on Weibo platforms, whilst Bayern Munich continued their strong growth as a fan favourite.

The relationship with winning and fan development is no more prevalent than in China, where many fans support multiple teams without the direct attachment to location or family upbringing. Real Madrid were the real winners here by not only seeing success on the pitch in the Champions League but topping our Red Card 2015 league table as China’s most reputable football team across the digital landscape. Star players, success and broader reach across China’s online eco-system has allowed the club to develop relationships well beyond tier 1 cities.

Digital media in China also saw several changes. The technology giants Tencent and Sina continued to compete for top spot amongst social users, Tencent’s WeChat became the most significant platform for teams to explore as Sina Weibo, whilst still remaining a major source of news, had to settle for a more passive form of engagement as users now spread their time across both platforms. WeChat has seen teams such as Liverpool, Arsenal and Bayern Munich all develop rich social followings on the network.

So what does it all mean for 2015? This year we expect to see Weibo and WeChat stabilise their positions in the market, the new short form video network Weishi is sure to spark the interest of many top clubs and online commerce will see more teams establishing official stores – now wanting to cash in on the social footprint. With tours in the summer for many clubs, digital will play an increasingly important role in securing commercial deals in China. The demand for rich, integrated media and sponsorships will create new deal opportunities for progressive football clubs.

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