• Denis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 12th November


Hello Industry Friends, here are the very latest news and insights from a very busy week in China.


📰 Headlines: NBA extends deal with China Mobile, WTT partners with Migu, NBA plans immersive experience centres, F1 commits to Shanghai races, EDG wins League of Legends Worlds, Xiaohongshu hits $20B valuation, Tencent reports $22B quarter.

🗞️ Top Industry News China Mobile Expands Partnership with NBA The new five-season landmark deal will utilise China Mobile’s 5G network services and related technology, alongside acquiring rights to offer the NBA’s League Pass subscription service to Chinese customers via streaming service Migu and its IPTV platform Mobile. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Beijing Daily (Chinese)

💡 Mailman Take: Tencent has dominated digital NBA coverage in China for so long, but now will compete for eyeballs with one of their main rivals, Migu. What makes this deal different is the extent to which China Mobile is using its 5G capabilities to embrace the metaverse with a goal of taking NBA coverage to a new dimension.


WTT Lands Broadcast Deal with Streaming Giant Migu

World Table Tennis (WTT) is the latest in a long list of global sports organisations to grow its broadcast footprint across Mainland China and Macao with China Mobile’s Migu. The four-year wide-ranging agreement presents a major milestone for WTT in terms of media rights, highlighting the sport’s fast growth and increase in market value in recent years. Read more on SportsPro (English) and Xinhua (Chinese)

💡 Mailman Take: Table tennis is the most played sport in China and holds a special place in the hearts of Chinese young and old. Among the big media rights Migu has sealed in recent months, this one may have the most cultural importance. WTT has revamped the way the professional game is played, watched and broadcast. A big deal for Migu in more ways than one.

NBA to Launch Immersive DreamCourts Project The NBA looks set to open one of its first multipurpose ‘experience centers’' featuring themed dining, retail services, and interactive games in China, alongside local partner Harves. The first phase of the project dubbed “NBA DreamCourts Preview Center'' is expected to open in May 2022 in Suzhou. It’s slated to be the first of six centres across China. Read more on Sixth Tone (English) and CRI (Chinese)

💡 Mailman Take: Over the years a host of western sports organisations have opened offline locations, academies, entertainment centers in China, however very few have succeeded beyond the first year and even less have had a lasting impact. Following their deal with Man Utd, Harves have now put another sizable investment behind China’s most watched international sports league, the NBA. The success of this project will be measured over the long term. F1 Extends Chinese Grand Prix to 2025 Despite the race being absent from the calendar for the third year in a row next year, the contract between F1 and Shanghai will run until 2025. The race was first held in 2004 and China is seen as an important growth area for the sport. Read more on F1 (English) and The Paper (Chinese)

💡 Mailman Take: A relief for all those associated with F1 in China following the cancellation of the 2022 race. As with most international sports, 2023 looks most likely for a return to China. With young Chinese driver, Guanyu Zhou, expected to be on the grid next season, this race may take on more importance for F1’s development in this market. Nike's Community Projects Leave a Charitable Footprint in China During the fourth China International Import Expo (CIIE), the sportswear giant staged an exhibition showcasing 40 memorable moments from its four decades in China, while one section of the exhibition was dedicated to Nike's public welfare projects. Read more on China Daily (English) Shanghai Marathon Cancelled Scheduled for November 28, the race has been called off amid fears over a fresh wave of infections in the country. It is the latest marathon in China to be postponed because of COVID-19 following the cancellations last month in Wuhan, Shijiazhuang and Beijing. Read more on SCMP (English) and Xinhua (Chinese)

🎮 Esports


China Esports Blast: October At Mailman, we’ve launched our first-ever China Esports Blast, taking a monthly deep dive into the biggest esports stories, including our own insights. Check out October’s edition here (English) China’s EDG Claim League of Legends World Championship Edward Gaming (EDG) became only the third Chinese team to win the esports industry’s most prestigious League of Legends World Championship finals, claiming the tournament’s prize money totalling $2.2M. Read more on SCMP (English) and Beijing Youth Daily (Chinese)

Esports Fans Go Wild Celebrating China Win Social media was awash with delirious fans celebrating deep into the night following China’s Edward Gaming’s victory at the League of Legends Worlds 2021. There were fans shaving their heads and running through the streets wearing next to nothing. Read more on Sixth Tone (English) and ifeng (Chinese)

🤔 Opinion


Move Over McGregor, China’s Revving Up on MMA

China is now a formidable force in what has become one of the world’s fastest-growing sports - mixed martial arts. Jesse Pottinger at RADII China explores more (English)

🗞️ Other News


Xiaohongshu Raises $500M, Reaches $20B Valuation

The lifestyle sharing platform’s new round of financing was led by Temasek and Tencent, followed by previous shareholders such as Alibaba, Tiantu Capital and Genesis Capital. Founded eight years ago, Xiaoshongshu has completed five rounds of financing to date. Read more on Pandaily (English) and China Business Network (Chinese)


Tencent Reports $22B Quarter Despite Crackdown

Tencent’s Q3 revenue saw an uptick of 13% compared to the same period last year, with the company’s value-added services segment generating $11.7B of the total. Tencent saw growth in Q3 despite a crackdown on tech companies and video game usage by Chinese regulators. Read more on Front Office Sports (English) and Securities Times (Chinese)

📖 Reports 3rd Age of Sport - Volume 1: Broadcast & Distribution While competition and athleticism are as old as humanity, as an industry, sport is characterised by three ages. In Volume 1, we take a closer look at the changes to broadcast and distribution and what this potentially means for the future. To understand more, download Seven League’s report here (English)


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Headquartered in Shanghai, China, Mailman is a global sports digital consultancy and agency. We help the world’s leading sports organisations serve their audiences and build their businesses. With over 200 experts across China, Southeast Asia, Europe, and the US, we specialise in digital strategy, transformation, social media, content production and eCommerce. Mailman is part of 160over90, an Endeavor company. Learn more about our story here.

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