• Denis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 19th August


Hello Industry Friends, here is the very latest news and insights from China. 📰 Headlines: Migu renews LaLiga to complete Big 5, GEF tasks VSPN with developing events in China, Special Olympics appoints Su Yiming as ambassador, Ant Group welcomes Qinwen Zheng as brand ambassador, China wins Asian Men’s Volleyball title, LA Rams announces broadcast agreement, and a look at how can investors tap into China's fitness industry. 🗣 In this week’s From The Top, we spoke with Ralph Straus, Commercial Director, The International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI), about working together with Migu, the role of Alex Hua Tian, making the sport more mainstream, utilising digital, and new China initiatives.

 

🗞️ Top Industry News Migu Renews LaLiga Rights to Complete Big 5 The China Mobile-owned streaming platform agreed to a media rights and sponsorship deal with Spain's top-tier, covering three seasons, from 2022-23 to 2024-25. Migu's coverage will reflect that on LaLiga's direct-to-consumer LaLiga+ service, which the league recently launched in the country. Both platforms will offer live coverage of all 380 matches per season, with six matches each week being streamed for free and four matches behind a paywall. Read more on SportsBusiness (English) and Ecosports (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: Landing media rights to Europe’s top 5 football leagues is quite the statement from Migu, not to mention the big catalog of other media rights the platform owns, including the likes of UFC, WTT, the Olympics, and many more. Migu, which sublicenses Premier League rights from iQiyi, has witnessed a 500% growth in football viewership, with half of that growth attributed to the Premier League alone (source). GEF Tasks VSPN with Developing Esports Events in China The Global Esports Federation (GEF) has appointed Shanghai-based esports solutions provider Versus Programming Network (VSPN) to support the development and staging of its events in China. The GEF has made China one of its main target markets since launching back in 2019. The country is due to host the federation’s Global Esports Tour next month and is scheduled to host its flagship esports tournament, the Global Esports Games, in 2024. Read more on SportBusiness (English) Su Yiming Appointed Special Olympics International Ambassador for East Asia The appointment of Su, one of China’s breakout stars at the Winter Olympics, will help attract more young people in China to learn about the Special Olympics and join Unified Sports - a program that empowers shared sports training and competitions among individuals with and without intellectual disabilities to promote social inclusion. Read more on Sixth Tone (English) and Sports Money (Chinese)


 

Ant Group Welcomes Qinwen Zheng as Brand Ambassador Ant Group welcomed Qinwen Zheng, the 19-year-old rising tennis star, as its latest brand ambassador. As part of Zhang’s role, she will work closely with Ant Group to inspire young people across rural and urban areas, motivating them to pursue their dreams. Zhang will also support the development and participation of women in sport. Read more on China Daily (Chinese) China Wins the 2022 Asian Men's Volleyball Cup Title China secured their second-ever Asian Men's Volleyball Cup title with a straight-sets victory against Japan in Nakhon Pathom in Thailand. The result marked the first time that China had won the event in a decade following their only previous triumph in 2012. China beat Iran in the final on that occasion. Read more on Inside the Games (English) and Ecosports (Chinese) Los Angeles Rams Announces Broadcasting Rights Agreements in China Rams’ games will be available for fans to view in China on Tencent's platforms, their partner network, as well as digital sites and mobile applications throughout the season. Games will be called by 傅皓南 Fi Haonan,邢天宇Xing Tianyu and 杨木Yang Mu. Read more on LA Rams (English) The First Zero-Carbon Mascot of the Hangzhou Asian Games is Released The first "Zero-Carbon Asian Games Licensed Product" has passed the evaluation and certification of professional institutions and obtained the product’s digital zero-carbon label. The Hangzhou Asian Organizing Committee has opened a franchised retail low-carbon city experience store in Hangzhou, with more than 1,000 licensed retail products in 12 product categories. Read more on Teller Report (English) and Ecosports (Chinese) WWE and Xiaozhu Youban Reach Strategic Cooperation The streaming service subsidiary of Baiming Group and WWE have cooperated on a short video copyright authorisation, to jointly promote the promotion of WWE-related short videos across the entire network platform, and support the short video marketing of WWE's main events. Read more on Sports Money (Chinese) Tencent Sees First Sales Fall as Economy Slows The Chinese tech giant cut more than 5,000 staff and shut down parts of its business as it grapples with its first sales fall in its history. Revenue slipped 3% year-on-year in the April-June period, hit by declines in ad spending and in its online gaming business. Read more on BBC (English) and Sports Money (Chinese)

 

🤔 Opinion How can investors tap into China's fitness industry? A study done by the Shanghai University of Sport shows, that by the end of 2021, more than 75M Chinese people owned a gym membership. What's unique about the fitness industry in China? What should domestic and international investors keep in mind when eyeing the booming fitness market in China? What's the role of the Chinese government in nurturing this market? Listen to the podcast which discusses all these topics, featuring China industry experts. Why China’s Metaverse And Digital Collectibles Sectors Are Diverging At first glance, the development seems puzzling: Why are private tech companies that have already made headways into the metaverse taking a low profile while the government is actively pushing for metaverse development? A deeper analysis reveals that this is in line with China’s overall metaverse development approach. Read more on Jing Daily (English)

 

🎙️ From The Top 🗣 Ralph Straus, Commercial Director, The International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI) 1. The FEI recently announced a partnership and equestrian channel launch with Migu. How is this partnership different from a pure media rights deal and what does it include? The partnership includes the Broadcast Rights of the FEI World Championships 2022 with Chinese commentary, and the VoD Rights of the Highlights programs. In order to support Migu to launch the equestrian channel, the FEI has also provided content of sports explainer videos, Winning Rounds/News videos, Riders’ features and bespoke content on the Chinese horse-human combinations competing in the Championships. With the success of the collaboration around the FEI World Championships Herning, the FEI is eager to partner with Migu and promote the beautiful sport in China. The equestrian sport is unique: women and men, old and young compete against each other at all levels; from top competitions to leisure riding, being involved with horses is always a true privilege. Over the last decade, the sport has significantly developed in Mainland China with the number of equestrian clubs growing from 40 in 2011 to 2,000 in 2021. The partnership with Migu provides an excellent opportunity to ride the wave and keep on growing the equestrian sport in China, with the live streaming of top-level competitions and an array of content that will delight the Chinese fans and equestrians.


 

2. The FEI has been introducing initiatives including the hiring of a Regional Solidarity Manager to develop training programmes for equestrian coaches, officials and vets. How have these initiatives been so far and can we expect more in the future? The FEI Solidarity Program was launched in 2011 to promote and develop equestrian culture and sport worldwide in a sustainable and structured way. In China’s case, we work directly with the Chinese Equestrian Association by providing the tools and the knowledge required to develop the sport and nurture the talent. The FEI Solidarity Director visited China in 2018 and has signed a Solidarity Support contract with the Chinese Equestrian Association to create a national education system for equestrian professionals, including coaches, grooms, officials and veterinaries, at a national level. The FEI Solidarity Committee also approved a pilot project for an FEI Regional Development Officer for Asia and specifically for China in order to support the Chinese Equestrian Association to gain in-house knowledge to sustain the development. In 2019, the officer visited different cities such as Beijing, Chengdu, and Wuhan to organize courses to educate and certify Tutor Coaches with the help of the Chinese Equestrian Association. However, due to the pandemic, it has become difficult to dispatch foreign experts to China. Currently, we have been organizing e-learning courses for Chinese Course Designers and Stable Managers. And the practical courses for High-Performance coaches will be held as soon as the sanitary restrictions are lifted in China.

3. How important is Alex Hua Tian in terms of FEI’s China strategy, and how is the FEI working with him to grow its China footprint? Over the past 15 years, we have seen an exponential growth of the equestrian sport in China and the boom has effectively happened since the Beijing Olympic Games 2008. Alex Hua Tian was one of the six riders competing for the Chinese team for the first time in the Olympic Games. Now he has been a 3-time Olympic rider and also competed in multiple World Championships and international top events. He is not only a Chinese sports hero, but also an ambassador to convey the knowledge and expertise of our sport through digital content he produced with his team. His story, his professionalism, his dedication towards the sport have inspired many Chinese horse lovers. We have been working with Alex and his team very closely on the Campaigns of the big games, FEI Awards, FEI features on Alex and his horses, sharing resources in China, etc. This time when we started the partnership with Migu, we also introduced Alex’s team to Migu for a special section with more localized content. In the upcoming FEI World Championships 2022 Eventing and Driving in Italy in September, Alex will compete with his Olympic horse Don Geniro. The events will also be live streamed on Migu with Chinese commentary and we will bring more exciting content to the Chinese equestrian fans. We will also constantly work with Alex and his team in many aspects to further grow the awareness and influence of our sport in China.


 

4. How does the FEI plan to grow equestrian into a more mainstream sport and engage a wider audience? Since the beginning of this year, we have sanctioned 4,688 International events. In China, we also have FEI events from the 5-star top level to the 1-star level. And the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup-China League, which was launched in China in 2011, has allocated one spot each year directly to the FEI World Cup Finals. Moreover, equestrian sport is more than a sport. It’s a passion and a way of life, and it has what most other sports don’t have – the horse! This is a key selling point that alongside the unique sporting bond that an athlete forms with their equine partner, also extends into a huge equine-related industry that not only serves sport, but also agriculture, recreational and tourism-related activities, therapeutic riding and the list goes on. We have been growing the sport by embracing all things related to equestrian, such as hosting top events, working side by side with the National Federations, delivering the knowledge through multi-platforms, and developing a strong network of the industry, but also by promoting the very special lifestyle. We also see a great development from grassroots to the professional top level with more and more young riders competing at international events, both inside China and across the world. This is very important as we all know the youth is the future. Being a sport that attracts young generations is also very important to expand our fan base. We have organised Sports Forums focusing on youth and launched the FEI Campus online learning platform and youth accounts on the digital platforms popular among young people. We have also worked with a game publisher releasing the FEI World Equestriad World Tour eGame for engagement from the next generation of fans. The FEI is also dedicated to promoting the universality of the sport while creating awareness and heroes in new developing equestrian nations like China. We are convinced that our partnership with Migu will definitely contribute in an important way to a successful expansion.

5. How is the FEI approaching digital in China compared to the rest of the world, given the fact offline events are unable to take place in the country making digital engagement even more important? China is one of the fastest-growing equestrian nations and China has its own digital ecosystem. Therefore, we have partnered with Migu, one of China’s leading digital streaming sports content services in China. In the meantime, we have native-Chinese editors both in-house and based in China working on multiple Chinese social channels. Besides those, we also have cooperation with important Chinese media to increase the exposure of our sport on a wider scale. Apart from the sports content, including the bespoken content of the Chinese riders competing outside China, we also produce a variety of content including horsemanship content, specific equestrian fitness routines, top tips for the riders, and stories of the Chinese horse lovers, etc. We want to further engage the Chinese audience and introduce them to the soul of our sport through all the localized content and lifestyle content.


 

6. Since the FEI has been streaming on Migu, what have been your initial takeaways and key learnings? Firstly, to have strong cooperation with the National Federation. The FEI has been working side by side with the Chinese Equestrian Association witnessing the equestrian community in China developing rapidly. We have also received a lot of support from the Chinese Equestrian Association for launching our activities in China. Secondly, to work with the right Chinese people. We have met many Chinese equestrians with great passion to promote the sport and they offered us great help. For instance, this time our successful cooperation with Migu started through the introduction of the Chinese equestrian and music celebrity Mr. LUAN Shu. He kindly built the bridge between the two parties. Thirdly, to find the most appropriate platform for the sport. Migu has not only live streamed the FEI World Championship events, but also launched a dedicated channel to strategically introduce and promote equestrian sport to a broader Chinese public. We believe that we can make a perfect combination of the FEI’s exciting sport and lifestyle content with Migu’s leading technology and extensive fan base. We look forward to the future of equestrian sports in China.

 

Mailman is China’s leading sports digital agency. We exist at the intersection of digital & sports. We help top sports organisations & brands to build sustainable businesses in China, one of the world's most challenging markets. Mailman is part of the Endeavor network. Learn more about our story here.

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