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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

Asia Sports Business Weekly | 24th May


Hello Industry Friends, here is the very latest news and insights from Asia.


📰 Key Headlines: WWE returns to Japan after five years, BYD sponsors Copa América, ROAD TO UFC series 3 kicks off in Shanghai, Melbourne eyes NFL game, Man Utd collaborates with Maybank.

 

🗞️ Key Industry News


WWE Announces Return to Japan

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has announced plans for three live shows in Japan this summer, marking its return to the country following a five-year absence. The first show will take place at Osaka’s Edion Arena on July 25, before back-to-back shows at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Arena on July 26 and July 27. Read more on SportBusiness (English)


💡 Our Take: The arrival of Shinsuke Nakamura, the Kabuki warriors, and other WWE superstars, combined with the ever-growing list of football teams confirmed to play in Japan this summer, demonstrate the increasing demand for sports entertainment and interest from Western sports organisations in the country. WWE’s popularity has been soaring in Japan as of late due to the latest streaming expansion via ABEMA, which covers Raw and Smackdown. These upcoming WWE shows and the growth in live streaming provide a promising outlook for WWE in Japan and the rest of Asia.


BYD Takes Regional Option with Copa América

The Chinese electric car leader has signed as a regional sponsor of the 2024 Copa América in a deal that could include digital overlay technology at the tournament for the first time. BYD will also have a presence at the upcoming EURO 2024 in Germany, where it recently became the ‘Official E-Mobility Partner’ as part of a global sponsorship deal. Read more on SportBusiness (English)


💡 Our Take: Chinese electric vehicle (EV) brands are ramping up marketing activity abroad as they vie for global market share against the likes of Tesla. Sports have become a popular vehicle for these EV brands to gain recognition given the global and diverse audiences tournaments such as Copa América and EURO 2024 attract. We can expect to see more Chinese EV brand logos plastered across global sporting events in years to come as most tournaments identify sustainability as a core pillar.

 

ROAD TO UFC 3 Kicks Off With a Bang in Shanghai

The ROAD TO UFC Season 3 kicked off with two days of fights in the opening round of the tournament across four weight divisions: flyweight, bantamweight, featherweight, and – for the first time – women's strawweight. Competing in front of a packed-out audience at the UFC Shanghai Performance Institute, seven Chinese athletes advanced to the semifinals, whilst the popular Wang Cong, competing in a non-tournament fight, was awarded a UFC contract. Read more on Jiefang Daily (English)

 

Melbourne Emerges as Contender to Host 2025 NFL Game

Australia is among the countries the NFL is scouting as potential hosts for regular-season games for the 2025 season and beyond. Rumours are heating up that a game could be played at Melbourne's MCG, the largest stadium in the Southern Hemisphere, as early as the 2025 NFL season. Read more on The Guardian (English)


💡 Our Take: Melbourne, one of the world's great sporting cities, would welcome a competitive NFL fixture with open arms. The NFL could continue to grow and expand its international fan base with a game Down Under, especially with the LA Rams and Philadelphia Eagles, who are part of the league's Global Market Program in Australia. A game at the MCG could attract a crowd of over 100,000 people, making it the largest attendance of any game on the NFL calendar.


Air-raising Action Wows Shanghai Crowds

With gravity-defying tricks and hair-raising maneuvers, the Shanghai leg of the inaugural Olympic Qualifier Series far exceeded expectations. As the first-of-its-kind, one-stop qualifying event for four sports, the series capped its four-day Shanghai leg with great fanfare at the Huangpu Riverside. Read more on China Daily (English)


Man United Collaborates with Maybank Indonesia

The English Premier League club collaborated with Maybank Indonesia to launch a co-branded credit card. The launch event featured legend, Ryan Giggs, who held a meet and greet with the fans, where they could take photos with a number of his collections in the mini museum. Cardholders will enjoy a variety of privileges at more than 130m Visa merchants in more than 200 countries and regions. Read more at Detik Finance (Bahasa)


💡 Our Take: A smart strategy for Maybank, which is currently not very popular in Indonesia, to expand its footprint and potential customer base from football fans. This strategy is also in line with the current behavior of Indonesians, who are increasingly switching to non-cash payment methods, reaching 64% of the total population based on the Consumer Payment Attitudes survey in 2023.


Fanatics Aligns with Topsports to Boost Chinese Merchandising Operations

Fanatics has reportedly struck a deal with Topsports, China’s largest sports retailer, to develop its operational capabilities in the country. While Fanatics will continue to locally design and create relevant merchandise, managing rights globally on behalf of its sports rights-holder clients, the tie-up has been agreed to tap into Topsports’ local expertise and experience in sports and fashion retail. Read more on SportBusiness (English)


Shanghai Gears Up For Formula E Net-zero Races

Formula E World Championship, the world’s first net-zero all-electric motorsport series, returns to China this weekend after five years, and for the first time, Shanghai is holding doubleheader races on May 25 and 26. Read more on Shine (English)


Yakult Joins Dodgers’ Japanese Sponsor Drive

The MLB team has added drinks manufacturer Yakult to its portfolio of Japanese sponsors. Through the multi-year deal, Yakult will enjoy premium signage at Dodger Stadium, including a logo position on the outfield wall and a permanent sign above the Left Field Pavilion. Japanese sponsors have flocked to the Dodgers since the MLB team signed Shohei Ohtani. Read more on SportBusiness (English)


Zeekr Named Mobility Partner of Diamond League

The electric vehicle manufacturer has been signed up as a sponsor of the Diamond League, athletics’ premier one-day series. Under the agreement, the brand will serve as the official mobility partner of the competition. Zeekr will partner with both the Diamond League and four individual series meetings to provide transport and mobility solutions for athletes, officials, and VIPs in Oslo (May 30), Stockholm (June 2), Paris (July 7), and Monaco (July 12). Read more on Sportcal (English)


Oaktree Takes Over Inter Milan From Chinese Owners

The U.S. investment fund said it had taken ownership of Italian football champions Inter Milan after a missed $428m payment from the club's Chinese majority shareholder. Read more on Reuters (English)

 

🤔 Opinion


China’s Foreign Tourism Soars 305% in Q1

Visa-free policies and improved payment systems have attracted visitors as luxury brands signal confidence in a market recovery. Read more on Jing Daily (English)|

 

🎮 Esports


AESF and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region Announce Partnership

The Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF) has partnered with the Big Data Development Bureau of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region located in Nanning, China, to host a large-scale esports event. The event, called the ASEAN-China Esports Competition, will gather national teams from several countries in Asia to compete in various esports tournaments. Read more on Esports Insider (English)

 

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