China Sports Business Weekly | 11th October
Updated: Dec 5, 2019
Here are the top China sports business news stories you need to know from this week. In this edition, my From the Top interview is with Amanda Wight, Director International Strategic Development at the US Tennis Association, where we discuss the US Open’s recent tournament, how it was viewed in China, and the US Open’s strategy to further develop the sport in China.
Shanghai Masters Continues J.P. Morgan Sponsorship Financial services company J.P. Morgan will continue as the Diamond Sponsor of the Rolex Shanghai Masters for the second year in a row. Asia’s only ATP Masters 1000 tournament is currently taking place at the Qi Zhong Tennis Centre, with the final set to take place on October 13th. Read more on JPMorgan (English) and Sohu (Chinese)
CSM Awarded J.League Rights Sports agency China Sports Media (CSM) won the Chinese media rights to broadcast the top tier of Japanese football, the J.League. CSM is also working with the J.League in other areas, such as launching and operating the league’s official Weibo account. Read more on SportsPro (English) and NetEase (Chinese)
China Puts Seven Past Guam in 2022 Qualifier The country’s men’s national football side beat Guam 7-0 in their first home game at the Qatar 2022 World Cup Asian qualifiers at the Tianhe Sports Center in Guangzhou. China sits top of Group A after two wins in a row. Read more on Xinhua (English) and China News (Chinese)
Mailman Take: There will be tougher opponents for China over the course of the qualifiers, but there are certainly positives to take from the first couple of games.
From the Top
This week I spoke to Amanda Wight, Director International Strategic Development at the US Tennis Association.
1. What makes the US Open stand out from the crowd to sports fans in China?
Where other sports focus largely on the just sportive side, we're not only a high-performance Grand Slam, but we have many other stories to tell. In 2019, we had a celebrity from China to talk about fashion and lifestyle, we've had Kobe Bryant on-site to do Chinese crossover activation and we've collaborated with NYC & Co to talk about tourism in New York City, the home of our great event. This is what we believe will resonate most with the Chinese fans.
2. Chinese sponsors are becoming more involved in international sports. Will the US Open look to bring on any Chinese sponsors in the future?
We're very proud of our own brand, and of the incredible brands - both domestic and global - that we partner with. When working on what we consider a successful model for international partners, we want to stress that we are not in China for the short term, we're taking our time and looking to build a brand that works for the long term and for the right reasons. Naturally, our prospective China sponsors will respect that and should we identify someone that shares our vision, then we would look forward to growing together.
3. There are still clear differences between the US and Chinese tennis markets, how to bridge the gap?
Tennis in China was at its peak during Li Na’s golden years and has not hit the same heights over the last few years. In the US, people are attracted by the unique atmosphere and experience, we are THE annual sporting event of the New York calendar which is something that we're extremely proud of. That's perhaps missing in China at the moment.
Finding the next Chinese superstar is the key, but there’s no rush and we're here to help develop the long term tennis culture in China.
4. The US Open has been working closely with digital broadcaster Tencent for three years, how has this partnership been?
It's been a great 3 years. Tencent is a very powerful platform that helped us to connect with a broad audience. It's incredible to see how much the landscape has changed in just a short amount of time and the next stages are going to be even more exciting.
5. How can the US Open help educate and grow potential new Chinese tennis stars?
It’s wonderful that Wang Qiang became only the 3rd Chinese female to reach a Grand Slam Quarter-Final and there have been very successful Chinese players at junior levels over the past few years. We’re excited about the current players from China and it is a moment to be celebrated for the game in the country. We are positive the new tennis stars from China will continue to shine through. We believe that a new Chinese icon will be transformative, but that's not the only way to turn tennis into a way of life in China.
6. What does the US Open do year-round outside of the actual tournament?
Our social presence is extremely important in China as it keeps us relevant and enables us to provide value for the tennis community. We are one of the world's major Grand Slam tournaments and see it as our responsibility to educate, empower and activate a new generation of tennis enthusiasts. The ongoing Asian Swing series is excellent for this, as it directly follows our tournament, and we look forward to continuing our digital coverage and original production with them.
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Mailman is a global sports digital agency and marketing platform. We help global rights holders, athletes and brands build a successful business across China, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Learn more about our story here.