• Denis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 15th October


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


📰 Headlines: F1 Shanghai off the grid in 2022, Winter Olympics engages youth, CCTV launches Olympics channel, KAWO raises US$5M, Jeremy Lin becomes UNICEF ambassador, gaming loopholes anger government, and LinkedIn is out.


🗣️ In this week’s From The Top, Alex Li, CEO at KAWO, about the company’s US$5M investment from Sequoia Capital, how it will accelerate business growth, and the benefits their clients will see.

🗞️ Top Industry News China Off the Grid for F1 in 2022 According to Reuters, the Shanghai race is set to be cancelled for the third year in a row. As with 2021, next year looks set for another year of cancellations and postponements for international sporting events. Read more on Reuters (English) 💡 Mailman Take: Chinese F2 driver Guanyu Zhou is favourite for the second Alfa Romeo Formula 1 seat next year. Not racing in his home country during a debut season would be a blow for the sport in China. This also doesn’t bode well for other international sports events looking to return to the mainland next year. Beijing 2022 Gets Younger Generation on the Ice Winter sports are trending in China. Take Tonghua City for example, which has implemented skating into the physical education syllabus, as well as building a new skating rink last year. A hearty 1K students from three schools spend two hours each day training at the rink. Read more on CGTN (English) and CCTV.com (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: Positive signs for the future of ice hockey China. The NHL has also been implementing educational courses into schools, both online & offline, as fitness and sports become a top priority for the Chinese government. Sweet 16 for CCTV The traditional TV platform will launch a new channel dedicated purely for the Olympics, named CCTV16. The channel will be the world’s first 4K ultra-high-definition sports channel to be broadcast on the satellite 24 hours a day. CCTV will have rights to use IOC logos and IP. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Huanqiu (Chinese)


KAWO Raises US$5M from Sequoia Capital The enterprise social media management platform will use this new investment to accelerate digital transformation in marketing teams across China, where workplace adoption of Software as a Service is estimated to be 10 years behind the West. Read more on Bloomberg (English) and Campaign (Chinese)

Jeremy Lin Becomes UNICEF Ambassador Lin, who currently plays for the Beijing Ducks in the Chinese Basketball Association League, will focus on youth mental health in his new role. His appointment came ahead of Sunday’s World Mental Health Day. Read more on Yahoo! (English) and Tencent (Chinese) Sports Brands & Tech Giants Donate to Shanxi Flooding Sports giants including Adidas, Anta, and Li Ning, as well as tech giants Alibaba and Tencent, have all provided support. The floods have forced over 120,000 people to relocate in the northern province. Read more on SCMP (English) and NetEase (Chinese). MLB China Launches ‘Becoming Stars’

Telling the story of MLB players before they were famous, the 12-episode China-specific series focuses on players competing in the playoffs. Read more on MLB (Chinese) and watch episode 1 here (Chinese)


World Games 2025 Set for Chengdu The event, set to take place in China for the first time, is due to take place between August 7 and 17. The World Games 2025 are due to be the first edition held under the guidelines set by the strategy paper "Growth Beyond Excellence". Read more on Inside the Games (English) and Chinanews.com (Chinese)

🎮 Esports


China State Media Wants Gaming Loopholes Closed

Trading platforms are providing game account rental and sales opportunities which users can use to bypass the supervision by renting and buying accounts and play online games without restrictions, providing loopholes for teenagers to enter online gaming. Read more on Reuters (English) and Xinhua (Chinese)

🗞️ Other News


LinkedIn Out of China

Microsoft will shut down LinkedIn due to a “significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China.” Microsoft will launch a job search site instead of in China that doesn’t have LinkedIn’s social media features. Read more on CNBC (English) and Sina (Chinese)


💡 Mailman Take: Another western social media platform bites the dust. Unlikely to have much impact on users though, considering the majority of LinkedIn users in China circumvent this problem using VPNs.


2M Displaced During Shanxi Floods

Torrential rain has led to houses collapsing and triggered landslides across more than 70 districts and cities in the province. Heavy rainfall is hampering rescue efforts, officials said. A large number of companies and celebrities have donated money to support rescue efforts. Read more on BBC (English) and Beijing News (Chinese)

🤔 Opinion


China's time limits for kids: How marketers can adapt

As giants like Bytedance, Kuaishou, Tencent and NetEase adjust to new regulations about how long children can watch videos and play games, China-based experts discuss how marketers can react. Read more on Campaign Asia (English)


Is China’s Soccer Boom Going Bust?

Chinese teams once embraced ambition and overspending in a bold attempt to reshape their sport. Now they don’t even play games. Read more on NYT (English)

🎫 Events


China Sports Forum: Emerging Areas of Growth Post-COVID

AmCham Shanghai's Sports Committee’s industry event will take a dive into the upcoming Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and winter sports in China, trends in sports media and sponsorship, fitness and grassroots participation on the rise, and the evolution of esports. Read more on AmCham (English)

📢 From The Top


🗣 Alex Li, CEO at KAWO


1. How will KAWO use this investment to accelerate business growth in China?


KAWO is currently in a prime position for accelerated growth. This investment would allow us to invest heavily in scaling our sales and marketing teams. Unlike many startups at the same stage, KAWO already has over 500 top tier global brands as clients, which verifies our business model. So it's a matter of duplicating what we are already doing at a larger scale.


2. What benefits will current clients of KAWO see from this investment?


Having a great data overview is not enough, our clients need a better way to visualise and gain insights from the data we provide. We've accumulated billions of organic data points in the past few years, which would provide the patterns that AI needs to learn from. Expect us to double down on providing more insights directly from our product in the next six months.


3. What have been the biggest issues marketing teams have faced in recent years?


Efficiency and data literacy are the two biggest issues marketing teams face. We see teams spend all of their time doing repetitive work that could easily be reduced if there is a standard content creation SOP in place. If content is the end product, then KAWO is the assembly line. Without scientific production of content, these marketing teams will remain mum-and-pop shops.


On the other hand, we also see that data literacy is a major problem. So much of the internal reporting between agency and client remains simple data gathering. This work takes up a lot of agency time but offers clients very little value in terms of key learnings. To give you an example, a client of ours does a lot of celebrity-endorsed content and wants the agency to tell them which celebrity brought the best results. But their agency is not able to answer that question directly, because they were not tagging their content and spending their time trying to figure out why certain celebrities brought in more impressions and others brought more engagement. We hope KAWO would be able to empower these marketing teams in the future by providing them with simple to use data insights.


4. KAWO now supports WeChat, Weibo, Douyin, and Kuaishou. Which platform do you see having the biggest impact in China marketing in the next 12 months, and why?


WeChat is still the most interesting platform from our perspective. It is so embedded into the lives of everyday users and after 10 years still continually and carefully continues to innovate - always with the focus on individual users.

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