• Denis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 1st February

Updated: Aug 27, 2019

Here are the top China sports business news stories you need to know from this week: Bundesliga Launch on Toutiao German football's top tier has launched its own channel on Chinese mobile content platform, Toutiao. The new channel expands the Bundesliga’s digital presence in China, which currently boasts 2.6 million followers on Weibo. Bytedance-owned Toutiao will open the top-flight league up to the 700 million users the platform boasts, providing Chinese fans with a new way to engage with German football. Read more on Sport Business (English) and Lanxiong (Chinese)

Mailman Take: With the footballing focal point of 2018 being the FIFA World Cup in Russia, there was a noticeable disconnect between Chinese football fans and European leagues on traditional social platforms. Compared to the growth of clubs and players, leagues struggled to grow across key performance indicators, with the Bundesliga the only league to experience significant growth on Weibo, with around 250,000 new followers. European leagues have therefore explored new ways in which to connect with local fans, through emerging platforms such as Toutiao. Given the Premier League's launch on the same platform and fellow Bytedance-owned app Douyin, as well as a dedicated Chinese language app, leagues are diversifying their digital portfolio in an attempt to reconnect with fans.


Wu Lei Heads for Spain LaLiga side Espanyol have signed Chinese Super League top goalscorer Wu Lei from Shanghai SIPG. Wu, 27, scored a total of 120 goals in 217 games for the CSL champions, including a league-high 27 last season. Read more on SportsPro (English) and Lanxiong Sports (Chinese)


Mailman Take: The announcement drew an outpouring of well wishes, reluctant goodbyes and smug see-you-laters from neutral, SIPG and rival fans respectively - a sentiment which helped drive a total engagement of 32,290 for the transfer announcement on Espanyol’s official Weibo channel. The club subsequently saw a 64% increase in their Weibo following - adding over 34,000 fans to their account by Wednesday morning. The social gains were not limited to China, however, with the club’s Instagram account increasing its follower base by over 5,000 in the immediate aftermath of the transfer, while the announcement post on the same platform became their most engaged post this season with over 14,000 interactions. Read more insights here.


361° Sponsors Xu Can Chinese sportswear brand 361° will sponsor new WBA World Featherweight Champion, Xu Can, who won the title late last month. Xu has a record of 15 wins and two defeats, and currently ranks as the highest Chinese boxer in the featherweight division. Read more on PRNewswire (Chinese) and China Daily (English)


FILA Signs Ma Sichun The Chinese actress has become the new brand ambassador for FILA. Prior to announcing Ma Sichun, FILA signed other entertainment stars in China, including TFBoys member, Wang Yuan, actor Chen Kun, and actress Gao Yuanyuan. Read more on FILA Weibo (Chinese)


In Other News:


Is The NFL The Sleeping Giant In China The NFL Super Bowl VIII will kick off on Monday morning and is expected to draw millions of viewers in a country which barely paid attention to it a decade ago: China. Mailman CEO Andrew Collins spoke to Forbes about the current state of play and what’s next for the sport in the world’s most populous country. Read the full excerpt on Forbes in Chinese and English


China ‘Priority ‘Market’ for NFL The National Football League will celebrate its 100th season in 2019 and could look to the future by playing the first game in China with commissioner Roger Goodell talking up the organisation's commitment to the country. “China is a priority market for the NFL,” he added. “We believe that our game has a great deal of potential to expand to grow and bring new fans into our game.” Read more on Reuters (English)


Nico Yennaris joins Beijing Guoan from Brentford The midfielder, who started his career at Arsenal, is believed to be the first foreign-born player to be given naturalised citizenship to play football in China. Yennaris, 25, qualifies for citizenship through his mother's Chinese heritage, and will therefore not count towards one of the Chinese Super League side's four foreign player spots. Read more on Sky Sports (English) and Sina (Chinese)

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