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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 11th September

Welcome to the latest edition of the China Sports Business Weekly.

Here’s what’s been making the headlines this week: ITTF identifies China as hub for World Cups, NFL launches first Tencent subscription, NBA Cares produces charity live stream, MLB and China Baseball Association deliver animation series, the CBA appoints new CEO, NBA opens world’s largest store, and the most creative Chinese Teachers’ Day posts. 

In this week’s From The Top, we spoke with Matt Pound, ITTF Marketing Director, about securing China as the Bubble, involving spectators, advice to other international sports organisations looking to get events back in China, and the WTT rebrand. 

Top Industry News

1) ITTF Lands China Hub The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) announced that China will be the hub for the resumption of its major events, including this year’s men’s and women’s World Cups being relocated from Germany and Thailand, respectively. The ‘#RESTART' plan includes three prestigious ITTF events, with the World Cups being joined by the 2020 ITTF Finals. All three competitions will be held in China with support from the Chinese Table Tennis Association (CTTA). Read more on SportBusiness (English) and General Administration of Sports of China (Chinese)

Mailman Take: This is why having a senior figure from China in a position of power on a governing body helps. It’s no surprise that appointing CTTA’s Liu Guoliang as the Chair of the newly formed World Table Tennis Council elevated China to become host. And no easy feat for the ITTF, particularly in a year where China’s sports bureau shelved the majority of international events. 2) NFL Launches First Ever Subscription Pass on Tencent Ahead of the new season which kicked off earlier today, the National Football League (NFL) has launched its first ever subscription package on Tencent Sports, featuring all games – live, condensed and via Redzone, NFL selected original programming, as well as Chinese & English commentary. A significant step in NFL's content and product journey in China. Read more on Tencent Sports (Chinese)

Mailman Take: Amid recent headlines and uncertainty of international sports properties finding a home for their product in China, this is a comprehensive offering at a very competitive price point for the NFL’s growing fan base in China. Touchdown.

3) NBA Cares Launches Charity Live Stream to Support Kids in Sichuan Liangshan

The first-ever charity live stream on NBA’s Tmall Store helped raise money to provide basketball equipment and supplies for kids from Sichuan Liangshan. Famous basketball commentator Su Qun and Slam Dunk Champion Yi Jinhong presented the show, while sales from the store between 10am to 10pm on September 9th, totalling over RMB 500K, will be contributed towards the NBA Cares projects and training camps in Liangshan. Read more on NBA WeChat (Chinese) and check out the video here

4) MLB China in Educational Animation Series with China Baseball Association The series features a number of popular sports commentators, actors, and singers providing guest voice-overs. The 20 episodes aim to deliver a ‘101’ introduction for more people in China to understand baseball and Major League Baseball (MLB). Read more on Xinhua (Chinese) 5) CBA Gets New CEO The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) has appointed Zhang Xiong as its new CEO. Zhang joined the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) in 2017 and has been both General Manager for competitions and President of games operations. Prior to joining the CBA, Zhang held government roles at the General Administration of Sports’ basketball department. Read more on Caixin (English) and Xinmin Evening (Chinese) 6) World’s Largest NBA Store Opens in Guangzhou

The National Basketball Association (NBA), along with leading sportswear retailer Topsports, and Nike, announced the opening of the largest NBA store in the world. The store is located in the commercial zone of Xihu in Guangzhou, featuring 2,680 square metres of retail space over two stories, and offers a wide variety of authentic NBA products, including jerseys, footwear, NBA Style apparel, and much more. Read more on The Statesman (English) and NBA China (Chinese) 7) Wuhan Zall Fans Attend First Game Since COVID-19 Outbreak Fans of the Chinese Super League club from the former epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic attended their first match in 280 days since the virus struck. About 300 Wuhan supporters made the 750-kilometer trip to Suzhou, and saw their side score twice in three minutes in the second half against title contenders Beijing Guoan. Read more on CGTN (English) and Dongqiudi (Chinese)

In Other News Nico Yennaris: “If I was to look at where my career was going at that time, I would probably have said you're mad." China’s first-ever naturalised player spoke to the Agence France-Presse about his journey from playing in the fourth tier of English football to becoming a Chinese first team international player. Read the interview on Yahoo! (English) Teachers’ Day Special

  • Chelsea ran a return-to-school video series, combining it with the EPL’s return to action, showcasing the players as students in the new school year.

  • Tottenham Hotspur celebrated with iconic images with coach Jose Mourinho and his players

  • NHL’s Bruce Cassidy wins the coach of the year, with NHL congratulating him on Teacher's Day

  • Patriots wished their coach Bill Belichick a Happy Teachers’ Day 

  • CBA ancient motivational sayings from team coaches 

  • MLB animation of legendary coach Joe Madden

  • Man Utd paid tribute to their head coaches, the greatest teachers

  • UFC released the top 6 MMA coaches in last 12 months for Teachers’ Day

Esports News

Tencent and Tim Hortons to Create Esports Themed Cafes The two companies will create esports themed coffee shops, including esports themed beverages, food and in-store activities. Tim Hortons opened its first coffee shop in China last year, and plans to open 1,500 in the future, with the help of Tencent’s undisclosed investment in May. Read more on Essentially Sports (English) and Tencent (Chinese)

From The Top

Matt Pound, ITTF Marketing Director

1. How did the ITTF secure China as a hub for its restart events, including this year’s men’s and women’s World Cups?

The ITTF conducted a bid to all our members to see who could help us host a series of events inside a safe bubble. The best solution came from China, and I have to give big thanks to the CTTA President Liu Guoliang for making the China bubble happen. The ITTF, like all sporting bodies has been desperate to get events back up and running, so we are thankful that Mr. Liu was able to make this happen for us in China when all other international sports have been cancelled in the country. We are looking forward to getting back to the tables!

2. Will there be spectators at these events, and what preparations are being made to ensure safe & successful events?

We are still in discussions with the LOC regarding spectators, we of course hope to allow fans back into the stadium, but the safety of all the spectators and the players is the most important. The ITTF released its COVID-19 International competition guidelines last month which will be implemented at the event. 

3. What advice do you have to other international sporting events looking to come to China?

Having a strong leader in China that is dedicated to bringing the sport back to the country. There have been many obstacles to solve to get the bubble off the ground, and the local support was paramount to make this dream happen in China. 

4. World Table Tennis has taken on a rebrand - how much of a milestone is this for the sport and what will be different moving forward?

World Table Tennis (WTT) is not just a rebrand, it is a whole new entity and series of events tasked to reposition the sport of table tennis and bring it to new heights in a new commercial model. The sport needed to be looking at the way it did business in a completely new way to grow all facets of its commercials. We have great hope for WTT, and look forward to showing the world our new product soon! --

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