• Denis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 19th June

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

In the news this week: Shanghai double race offer, BVB grows academy presence, Shenzhen tennis finals scheduled, Tibet team folds, Zhang Weili talks about quarantine life, post-COVID digital trends, Tencent’s new city and potential iQIYI investment, Panini’s EPL creative, PSG’s latest esports maneuver and a Premier League Weibo Top 10. 

In this week’s From The Top, we spoke with Alex Duncan, Co-founder at KAWO - the Enterprise Social Media Management Platform for China. Alex talks about how best to use data to drive decisions, gaining more access to data, approaching CRM, where China lags behind / is ahead, and the shift to content-driven commerce. In case you missed it last week, here is the link to KAWO’s comprehensive Ultimate Introduction to Social Media in China.

Top Industry News

1) Shanghai Offered Double F1 Race Option The head of the Shanghai Sports Bureau revealed China has been invited to host two Formula One races in Shanghai this season, but confirmed no decision to accept has been made. The original race was scheduled to take place at the Shanghai International Circuit on April 19. Read more on Reuters (English) and Sina (Chinese)


2) Borussia Dortmund Brings On Academy Partner Huya Huya has become Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund’s latest regional youth academy partner in China. Both sides will cooperate on initiatives including coach-to-coach development and youth training. Read more on Hupu (Chinese)

3) WTA Schedules Shenzhen Finals The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has published a provisional calendar for 2020, with 20 tournaments culminating in the Shiseido WTA Finals in Shenzhen. Read more on WTA (English) and Sohu (Chinese)


4) Tibet's Only Professional Football Club Folds The fold happened following a row over hosting matches in one of the highest cities in the world. Lhasa Chengtou played just two games in the Tibetan capital on a pitch at an altitude of 3,650 metres. On both occasions the referee suspended play every 15 minutes for players to breathe bottled oxygen. Read more on Yahoo! (English) and NetEase (Chinese) 5) Zhang Weili Dismisses Yao Ming Comparisons In an in-depth interview with the AFP, the current UFC champion talked about her victory in Vegas, quarantine life, return to China, and focusing on herself rather than comparisons to other greats. Read the interview on China Daily (English) and ThePaper (Chinese)


6) LaLiga’s Chinese JV to Focus on Sponsorship & Licensing Sergi Torrents, CEO of LaLiga’s new China joint venture, the Spanish Football Commercial & Marketing Company (SFCM), talks about the ambitions and plans to commercialise LaLiga’s sponsorship and licensing rights over the 15-year period. Read the interview on SportBusiness

Best of the Rest


Digital Trends Accelerate Due to Impact of COVID-19 The impact of COVID-19 has undoubtedly interrupted many predictions made earlier this year. Seven League, having released a report in January predicting the Seven Digital Trends for 2020, look at the new realities six months on. Read the blog here

iQIYI Up 38% Following Tencent Investment Rumours Tencent is said to have approached Baidu to buy a stake in iQIYI, yet talks are still at an early stage.  Baidu currently owns a 56.2% stake in iQIYI and controls 92.7% of the company's voting shares. If Tencent is successful with its proposed investment, this would shift the dynamic of China’s online streaming market and give Tencent even more control over its rival Alibaba. However, we've seen deals like this before, with Youku and Tudou, resulting in Tudou becoming almost non-existent. Read more on Business Insider (English) and Sina (Chinese) Tencent to Build City of the Future The technology giant announced plans for a "city of the future," similarly sized to Monaco, in the southern city of Shenzhen. Dubbed "Net City," the 22M square-foot development will prioritise pedestrians, green spaces and self-driving vehicles. Shenzhen is home to Tencent’s HQ and often referred to as The Silicon Valley of China. Read more on CNN (English) and TechWeb (Chinese)


Videos of the Week Panini America Welcomes Back EPL with Sticker Collage Ahead of the upcoming English Premier League (EPL) return, Panini America put together the league’s logo made entirely out of Panini EPL trading cards. Watch the video here CBA Welcomes Back Basketball The Chinese Basketball Association featured hero workers and hard work in the build-up to the upcoming season start. Watch the video here Esports News PSG Enters LoL Pacific Championship Series with Talon Esports The French football club’s esports arm will compete in the League of Legends Pacific Championship Series (PCS) via a partnership with Talon Esports. Both organisations will pursue commercial partnerships and regionally tailored content creation. The newly formed PSG Talon will continue to compete as one of the ten inaugural teams in the PCS. Read more on Esports Observer (English) and Dongqiudi (Chinese)


China Global Television Network Broadcasts KPL Spring Split Final This marks the first time a Chinese government-operated platform has streamed an esports tournament since 2003, highlighting that esports has gained more acceptance from mainstream platforms. The event was streamed on CGTN’s official app, Weibo, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. The winner took home $420K in prize money. Read more on Esports Observer (English) and Tencent (Chinese)

From The Top

Alex Duncan, Co-Founder at KAWO

1. How should sports organisations and brands be using data to drive decisions in China?

We see a huge amount of focus on competitor monitoring, but the platforms in China are so closed when it comes to data. You can get 10 times more data about your own accounts and followers than you can about your competitors. There is so much that can be learned and improved from deeper analysis of your own social data. It’s also a mistake to assume your competitors know what they’re doing any more than your own team does.

2. How can they get access to more data from China?

The native backends of the social platforms are fairly rudimentary, so to really make the most of the data brands need to be exporting it and running their own breakdown and analysis. Alternatively a platform like KAWO that connects directly to your social accounts provides a range of tools to help you easily analyze and gain insights.

3. How should they approach Customer Relationship management in China?

Carefully. Again the lack of data available from the social networks in China means you really have to have a clear objective for using Social CRM. By default you know almost no identifying information about your social followers. So you’re going to have to specifically request their permission for additional information in order to either segment them or bind your customers social accounts to your existing CRM. It’s definitely not a solution for all brands and requires significant effort so those that do pursue it need to have a clear strategy and plan.

4. How does China lag behind / surpass the rest of the world in social?

While social networks in the West are still clinging to an outdated ad supported model, in China the social platforms are providing ways to monetize directly within their walled gardens. This is both better for brands who have direct ways to drive ROI from social and better to consumers whose attention and data is no longer the product being sold to advertisers.


5. How are you seeing the shift from traditional-driven commerce to content-driven commerce?


The younger generations in China are making most of their purchase decisions based on content created by both KOLs and brands themselves. This can be a challenge for brands whose thinking is stuck in the old traffic and conversion model of e-commerce. Consumers want to make informed purchase decisions and it’s imperative to invest in content.


6. Which current social platforms do you see as having the most growth potential?


After 8+ years of rapid growth, I feel we’re now reaching a point of maturity in China’s digital ecosystem. There will always be new platforms launching, but they’re unlikely to ever reach the scale of the incumbent players. Instead of focusing on what is new and hot, brands need to focus their efforts on solidifying their efforts on the existing platforms.



Top 10


This week we look at the most followed Premier League Football Clubs on Weibo. 

  1. Manchester United - 10M

  2. Manchester City - 8.8M

  3. Chelsea FC - 7.7M

  4. Arsenal - 5.2M

  5. Liverpool FC - 3.2M

  6. Tottenham Hotspur - 2.5M

  7. Leicester City - 549K

  8. Aston Villa - 491K

  9. Wolverhampton Wanderers - 304K

  10. Southampton - 240K

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