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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 17th March

Hello Industry Friends, here is the very latest news and insights from China. 📰 Headlines: Sports minister sets new men’s football goals and vows to build on Beijing 2022 legacy, Baidu partners with Pixellot to grow sports market credentials, new deals for Hisense and OPPO, Xiaohongshu bets on live streaming ecommerce, a blog on Douyin’s successful World Cup, and the latest China esports blast.


🗞️ Top Industry News Sports Minister Sets New Goals for Men's Football The country's football development, especially on the men's side, has long been in need of an overhaul. Reform with emphasis on the fight against corruption within the governing body and focus on youth promotion are at the core, said Gao Zhidan, minister of the General Administration of Sport of China. Read more on China Daily (English) and Xinhua (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: Having seen the likes of Japan and South Korea impress in Qatar, Chinese fans are desperate to see their nation reach a men’s World Cup again. There will be further hope this is achievable following FIFA’s recent tournament expansion to 48 teams in 2026. China’s women’s team, on the other hand, is a top-level team with a genuine chance of World Cup success this summer. Sports Minister Vows to Build Further on Beijing 2022's Legacy Tapping into the potential in schools and the mass fitness sector are high on the agenda, which will include collaborating with the country's education authority. This will help add in more winter sports fundamentals to the PE curriculum in schools and recruit more retired athletes and coaches to campuses as full-time PE teachers. China’s General Administration of Sport plans to keep working with the Ministry of Finance to provide subsidies totaling $157m to support about 2.5k public sports venues, including winter sports facilities, this year. Read more on China Daily (English) and Xinhua (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: A common theme at the recent Two Sessions meetings in Beijing regarding sport was investment at the bottom of the pyramid into education systems. Beijing 2022 highlighted that China has exceptional, young talent in Eileen Gu and Su Yiming. But if China wants to continue producing more of these stars, then implementing these sports further into the education system will be key. Baidu Eyes Growth in Chinese Long-tail Sports Market with Pixellot Deal The AI-automated sports production company has entered into a strategic agreement with the internet giant as part of plans to further expand Baidu’s involvement in the sports market. 200 Pixellot systems will be installed in venues across China, with a goal to fit an additional 6k systems over the next three years. Pixellot’s technology automatically captures, produces, and streams games at any level, from youth leagues to professional teams without the need for a camera operator. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and NetEase (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: Rather than compete in the crowded and often money-losing landscape of sports media rights, Baidu is sticking to its strengths and investing in AI and tech for sports. As China’s most popular search engine and leader in AI, Baidu is banking on innovation to keep its name relevant in China’s growing sports industry. Washington Mystics Sign Li Meng to Training Camp Contract Li becomes the third Chinese player to join the WNBA for the upcoming season, following New York Liberty's Han Xu and Los Angeles Sparks' Yang Liwei. "Hopefully I will bring more attention from Asia and China to the WNBA, and improve myself there," Li wrote on Weibo. Read more on Shine (English) and Xinhua (Chinese) NRL Lands Hisense Sponsorship Extension The National Rugby League (NRL) has extended its sponsorship agreement for another three years with the Chinese mega-brand. Hisense will continue its deal with the NRL as its exclusive category sponsor until the end of the 2025 season, having initially signed an agreement from 2020 until 2022. Read more on SportBusiness (English)


OPPO Connects with Springboks Handset Deal SA Rugby, governing body of South African rugby union, has agreed a new sponsorship deal with Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer OPPO, which will see the brand serve as the official handset partner to the men’s national team, the Springboks, along with SA Rugby. Read more on SportBusiness (English) Xiaohongshu Bets on Live-streaming Ecommerce to Promote Higher Profit The Chinese lifestyle-sharing platform will upgrade its live-streaming business to an independent department. The site features many reviews and users can post videos and pictures to show off their purchases. Read more on Pandaily (English) and LatePost (Chinese) China is Fully Reopening to Tourists After Three Years of Border Restrictions China’s Embassy in the United States said the country would resume issuing all categories of visas for foreigners from Wednesday. Travellers holding multi-year visas issued before March 28, 2020 – the date China closed its borders to most overseas visitors in an attempt to keep Covid-19 out – would be allowed to use them so long as they had not expired, the statement said. Read more on CNN (English) and China-embassy (Chinese)


🤔 Opinion Douyin’s World Cup Delights Chinese Fans, Integrates Society For Qatar 2022, Bytedance’s short video platform Douyin (internationally TikTok) landed new media broadcast rights, becoming the first-ever social media platform to broadcast the FIFA World Cup live in China. Mailman’s Rufio Zhu and Bert Li take a look at how this deal worked out for Douyin and what were the key learnings for the industry. Read more on Mailman (English)


🎮 Esports Olympic Council of Asia Removes Hearthstone From Asian Games The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) announced that it has decided to remove Hearthstone from the Hangzhou Asian Games due to the termination of the partnership between NetEase and Activision Blizzard. Read more on The Esports Advocate (English) One-Third of Taobao’s 100m Esports Product Buyers are Post-00s The Alibaba-owned ecommerce giant revealed the number of its users looking for esports-related products had reached 100, by the end of 2022. One-third are those born after 2000 with female consumers accounting for more than 40%. Gaming accessories such as headsets, stereos, keyboards and mice, as well as gaming phones and chairs, are among the most sought-after. Read more on DAO (English) and Ecommerce Daily (Chinese) China Esports Blast: February February 2023 saw several key developments in China’s gaming and esports industry, including a $265m cash investment from the Saudi government’s Public Investment Fund and an annual esports financial report revealed by the Chinese government. Moreover, a popular Chinese League of Legends team secured a partnership with a special local Chinese brand. Read more on Esports Insider (English)


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