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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 18th September

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

Here’s what’s been making the headlines this week: Premier League returns to China on Tencent, Barcelona launches channel on iQiyi Sports, PP Sports confirms Bundesliga renegotiation, Juventus signs Raffles partnership, Migu sub-licenses LaLiga & Espanyol games, Jeremy Lin eyes NBA return, Douyin hits 600M daily active users. 

In this week’s From The Top, we spoke with Toni Claveria - Head of APAC at FC Barcelona, about the club’s new channel launch on iQiyi Sports, how they will leverage the channel on local platforms, and what opportunities this provides for current and potential partners and sponsors. 

Top Industry News

1) Premier League Signs One Year Broadcast Deal with Tencent

The quick turnaround was agreed to cover the rest of the 2020-21 season. The contract with Tencent Sports comes after the EPL’s previous £564M deal with PPTV was terminated with immediate effect earlier this month. Football fans in China will be able to start watching games this weekend. Read more on BBC (English) and Ecosports (Chinese) Mailman Take: A good partner for the EPL, and a great deal for Tencent. Likely the fastest media rights agreement ever made, and one that will delight football fans across China. The bold decision to give clubs the rights for live-game clips on social channels will transform the way they engage with fans on match day. 2) Barcelona Launches Official Channel on iQiyi Sports The first LaLiga club to launch a dedicated club channel will aim to deliver diverse exclusive video content to fans in China. These will range from behind-the-scenes access, training sessions, player challenges, interviews and keeping fans up to date on the latest developments at the club, as well as giving behind-the-scenes access to the Barca B team training. Read more on Caixin (English) and Tencent (Chinese)

3) PP Sports Confirms Bundesliga Renegotiation The digital platform announced all Bundesliga matches will be available to watch for the 2020/21 season. PP Sports has been in negotiation with most of, if not all, of its current partnerships to negotiate terms following COVID-19’s impact on the industry. Read more on Xinhua (English) and PP Sports (Chinese) Mailman Take: PP Sports couldn’t afford to lose Bundesliga rights following the debacle with the Premier League earlier this month. The rights holder will be expecting a significant increase in exposure & promotion from the platform with the EPL now on Tencent. 4) Juventus Signs Three-Year Deal with Raffles Family Office The announcement with investment and wealth management company Raffles Family Office (RFO) means RFO will be recognised as the club's official regional partner in Asia. The collaboration will be focused in areas of branding and marketing activations. Read more on Straits Times (English) and Lanxiong Sports (Chinese)

5) Migu to Broadcast LaLiga & Espanyol The entertainment streaming platform of China Mobile agreed a sublicensing deal with streaming platform iQiyi Sports for coverage of LaLiga’s 2020/21 season. Migu will also show coverage of matches by Segunda División team Espanyol, whose squad includes Chinese international Wu Lei. Read more on Jiemian (Chinese) Mailman Take: Despite relegation, Espanyol still offers an attractive prospect to broadcasters driven by China’s star striker Wu Lei’s decision to stay loyal to the club. 6) Lands China League One Rights The Chinese streaming platform acquired exclusive rights to China League One, the country’s second-tier football division, for the 2020/21 season. China Sports will stream matches and shoulder content for free, having acquired the rights in a deal with the Chinese Football Association. China Sports will work with other media platforms such as Kuaishou, which will be the exclusive short video platform and will carry live content, as well as real-time and delayed highlights. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Xinhua (Chinese) 7) Jeremy Lin Exits CBA, Eyes NBA Return Following one season back in China with the Beijing Ducks, Lin wants an NBA return. The 32-year-old signed for Beijing as an unrestricted free agent last year and helped his team reach the semi-finals of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) league. Lin said to his 7M fans on Weibo: "This decision has really been the hardest in my life". Read more on Yahoo Sports (English) and Huanqiu (Chinese) Mailman Take: It’s no big surprise to see Lin do just the 12 months in the CBA, as a number of veterans from the NBA have done so before. If Lin had committed and stayed, he could have potentially replicated the success Stephon Marbury had with Beijing Ducks. Look for Lin to return to the CBA later in his career. In Other News Douyin Hits 600M Daily Active Users The Chinese version of short video app TikTok hit 600M daily active users (DAUs) in August, marking a 50% jump since the start of the year. Douyin’s more than 22M creators have reportedly pocketed a total of $6.15B over the past year, with Douyin officials stating they aimed to help them double that income over the next year. Read more on Reuters (English) and Daily Economic (Chinese) Esports News TT Acquired Dominus Esports The Chinese League of Legends Pro League team Dominus Esports has been acquired by Chinese chat service company TT, and rebranded as a League of Legends division of TT Esports. Read more on Esports Observer (English) and Lanxiong Sports (Chinese) From The Top Toni Claveria - Head of APAC at FC Barcelona 1. What will be unique & specific about the Barcelona channel for the Chinese audience? Before launching on iQIYI Sports, Barҫa fans in China only had access to short form content on our social media platforms. Now, as the first La Liga club to have a channel on iQIYI Sports we will be providing long-form content to give fans a richer viewing experience. If you access the channel now, you’ll find it is very fan friendly and allows users to search for specific videos, which they were unable to do until now. We are also in the process of localizing content that was previously unavailable in China, so we are looking forward to providing fans with a wide variety of footage and bringing them closer to the Club.

2. Why did the Club identify iQiyi Sports as a partner in China for this channel?

iQIYI Sports is an industry leader in sports streaming in China with extensive sports broadcasting expertise and the current rights holder of La Liga. As the first Official FC Barcelona Channel in China dedicated to streaming, we were looking for a company whose local expertise would allow us to offer the best possible experience to our fans. 

Through this collaboration -outside the scope of the Club’s partnership agreements- we have found the ideal platform through which to strengthen our digital position and provide Chinese fans with the best Barça content all in one place.

3. How will you leverage the channel on the Club's digital platforms in China?

The channel serves to complement our existing digital channels in the territory. We will be releasing short videos on social media with the option to take fans directly to our iQIYI Channel to watch the long version if they so desire. We want to continue bringing the Club closer to fans and the way to do this is by giving them a wider variety of choice.

We’re also thinking about the user habits and mindsets of fans as they consume content on different platforms and tailoring the content to achieve the best engagement for that specific medium. For that reason, the type of content we have on Douyin is very different to iQIYI but we fully expect there to be crossover. 

4. What opportunities will this provide to current and potential partners and sponsors?

Collaborating with a local media powerhouse like iQIYI Sports enables the Club to provide a stronger commercial package to existing and potential partners. We’ve created yet another distribution channel in China through which to reach our fans through global and localized content and an opportunity for our partners to reach their target audiences in a natural way.

We are building a strong content platform that allows us to better engage with Barça fans in China and these fans are our partners’ target audience. As the Club grows in China it naturally --

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