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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 22nd January

Hello Industry Friends,

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

Making headlines this week: Man City launches Alipay partnership, PP Sports countersues the English Premier League, FIBA fines the Chinese Basketball Association, Tencent Cloud agrees to virtual World Rowing deal, LD Sports partners with Inter Milan, Seven League predicts the digital trends in sports for 2021, and a big week for China Power.

Top Industry News

1. Manchester City Launches Alipay Partnership The new strategic partnership in China will see the club launch an official club Mini Program on the digital payment platform, which boasts 1B users. The Mini program will provide fans in China with a new fan engagement experience by allowing them to engage through the syndication of targeted content, an extensive retail offering and a variety of membership activations. Read more on Ecosports (Chinese)

2. PP Sports to Countersue Premier League The Chinese streaming platform is looking to sue the English Premier League over their collapsed media rights deal. The Financial Times reported that PP Sports wants money returned that it paid the Premier League before the deal prematurely ended. The deal was terminated after the platform missed a payment originally due to the Premier League in March 2020. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Sohu (Chinese)

3. FIBA Fines China for Missing 2nd window The national basketball federations of China (CBA), Chinese Taipei (CTBA) and Korea (KBA) failed to participate in the second window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers last year. FIBA’s Disciplinary Panel handed out a fine of US$180K to each of the three federations. FIBA also deducted two points from each country. Read more on (English) and Ifeng (Chinese)

4. Tencent Cloud to Deliver Virtual World Rowing The cloud business of Tencent announced a tie-up with World Rowing - the international governing body of the sport - to deliver its first-ever ‘virtual’ sports competition. Tencent Cloud will provide global live streaming, video-on-demand and other technological support for the event which will take place from 23-27 February. Read more on Around The Rings (English)

5. LD Sports Partners with Inter Milan

Shanghai-based LD Sports will become Inter’s official infotainment partner in Asia. The platform, which states it provides sports marketing, content and entertainment packages across East Asia, will see the Chinese company feature heavily in marketing campaigns throughout the remainder of the season. LD Sports will also increase its visibility on advertising boards at the club’s stadium. Read more on OneFootball (English) and Inter (Chinese) Mailman Take: Plenty of unknowns still hang over LD Sports following a disastrous partnership with Southampton that was cut short. Suning-owned Inter Milan look better placed to take the gamble given the club’s China connections and ownership.

6. VSPN Closes Series B+ Funding Round The esports total solutions provider has closed a $60M Series B+ funding round, joined by Prospect Avenue Capital (PAC), Guotai Junan International, and Nan Fung Group. Lighthouse Capital continues to act as the Exclusive Financial Advisor for this round of funding. This funding round will, among other things, be used to branch out VSPN’s overseas esports services Read more on TechCrunch (English) and Ecosports (Chinese) Mailman Take: That’s two rounds of funding and a major acquisition for VSPN in the last few months. An appetite for global expansion and growing influence in esports events sets them up nicely for a big 2021.

7. DECATHLON Becomes Official Licensee of the NBA As one of the world’s largest sporting goods retailers, the multiyear merchandising partnership makes DECATHLON an official licensee of the NBA across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. The partnership will feature a dedicated range of NBA team and league-branded base layers, accessories and footwear* designed by DECATHLON and sold under their basketball brand “TARMAK.” Read more on NBA (English) and Jiemian (Chinese)

Trends The 7 Digital Trends Set to Impact the Sports Industry in 2021 Now in its third year of publication, Seven League’s “Seven Trends to Define Digital Sport in 2021” is drawn from insights taken from a number of leading Seven League consultants, after an extraordinary 12 months for the digital sports industry. The report scrutinises a number of topics within digital and wider sports marketing, touching on areas such as social commerce, broadcast re-versioning, and clubs going D2C. It also dissects the anticipated rise of audio, as well as the flattening of social channels as it becomes about the network of users, more than product features. Read the Report here (English) and more on SportsPro (English)


TJ Sports Claims $155M in Revenue The Chinese League of Legends esports operator announced three company milestones in the past two years. The first being that the LPL Union has reached US$155M in total revenue, including media rights and sponsorships. The second is the LPL has surpassed 4B hours watched across all platforms. Finally, the LPL has become one China’s most valuable esports intellectual properties. Read more on Esports Observer (English) and Sina (Chinese)

China Power The Leech Wins by KO at Fight Island 7, Jumps Rank to 12th Chinese MMA veteran "The Leech" Li Jingliang knocked out Santiago Ponzinibbio of Argentina during a welterweight bout in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Fight Island 7 event in Abu Dhabi's Yas Island. The victory elevated The Leech up to 12th in the world welterweight rankings. Read more on CGTN (English) and Beijing News (Chinese) Yan Bingtao Claims Masters Title The youngest Masters champion since Ronnie O'Sullivan in 1995, Yan Bingtao beat veteran John Higgins 10-8 in the final. The 20-year-old’s victory comes in his debut appearance in the top-16-only tournament. Read more on Yahoo! (English) and People (Chinese) Su Mudaerji Claims Third Straight Victory in UFC The Chinese flyweight beat Zarrukh Adashev from Uzbekistan by unanimous decision at UFC Fight Island 8. The victory marks Su’s third straight win as he looks to climb into the flyweight rankings. Read more on SCMP (English) and PP Sports (Chinese) Other News Kweichow Moutai Tops Beverage Charts

Now worth more than China’s four biggest banks, Kweichow Moutai is the country’s most valuable company aside from tech firms. Kweichow’s stocks surged near 70 percent on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in 2020. It is the world’s largest beverage maker by market cap, exceeding Coca-Cola and all of the alcohol distilleries in the world. The company is also worth more than Toyota, Nike and Disney. Read more on 9news (English) and Tencent (Chinese)

Tech news

China to Inject $1.6T into Tech Infrastructure The $1.6T, to be invested through 2025, will be used to develop next-generation infrastructure, including 5G network and electric-vehicle charging stations. The investment will reportedly account for roughly 10% of all social infrastructure spending. Read more on Nikkei Asia (English)


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