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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 23rd July

Here’s the latest news and insights from a busy seven days in China.

📰 Headlines: iQiyi Sports lands Premier League rights, Beijing Olympics venues near completion, BVB concludes another successful virtual China tour, IOC wants spectators in Beijing, Tencent buys Sumo for US$1.3B, and a deep dive into the popular Xiaohongshu.

🗣️ In this week’s From The Top, Grace Li, Head of Communications Asia Pacific at Evonik, talks about partnering with BVB for its China summer virtual tour, standout collaborations in recent years, and taking the partnership beyond football.


🗞️ Top Industry News

Premier League Heads to iQiyi Sports in Four-Year Deal The popular streaming platform, which also owns rights to LaLiga and AFC in China, has landed the exclusive digital media rights from 2021-25. Fans in China will be able to watch all matches live for just US$49 per season. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: The Baidu-owned streaming platform is a safe bet for the Premier League, and a welcome relief, following a forgettable partnership with PP Sports and a discounted stop-gap deal with Tencent. Boasting 478M MAUs, 100s of TV shows, and now a flagship sports IP, this also marks a major win for the iQiyi. Game on.

Winter Olympics Construction to be Completed by October China is expected to complete construction work for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics by October, with 53 of the 57 Winter Olympic projects around Beijing already finished. The remaining four, including renovation of the National Stadium, are due for completion in the coming months. Read more on Reuters (English) and (Chinese)

BVB Concludes Successful Virtual China Summer Tour During the tour, BVB travelled across 4 cities over 3 weekends, engaging fans and activating partners. For the second year in a row, the German club were able to virtually connect the team with die-hard supporters in the world's most populous country. Read more on Xinhuanet (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: Without the ability to physically tour the globe, BVB has gone all in, again, to ensure its fan base feels as close as possible to the team without being able to meet them in person. This is the best way to keep fans engaged and satisfy sponsor needs.

IOC: Beijing 2022 Winter Games Will Need Spectators “We would like to have the international community there,” said Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr, who heads the IOC’s coordination commission, overseeing preparations for the Beijing Games. “We need very successful Games next year in Beijing. We really need that success for the sake of everybody... for keeping that light of hope really bright and open.” Read more on Reuters (English) NBA China Partners with Citibank The two parties will launch a series of joint marketing activities across the country as Citibank attempts to tap into a new consumer base of sports and fashion fans. Read more on Jiemian (Chinese) FC Barcelona Launches Chinese Digital Assets The series of stickers and photo frames will be available throughout the 2021/22 season on popular Chinese image processing app, Meitu XiuXiu. There will be special editions of assets including Chinese New Year and El Clásico. Read more on FC Barcelona (English) and Sports Money (Chinese)


🎮 Esports Tencent Snaps Up UK Video Games Company Sumo for US$1.3B

The purchase, which will boost the Chinese internet giant's presence globally, brings together Sumo's racing and snooker games with Tencent's more high-profile range of games that includes Call of Duty's mobile version. Read more on Variety (English) and Sina (Chinese)


🤔 Opinion What is Xiaohongshu? Also known as Little Red Book, or RED, the Chinese equivalent of Instagram is the best platform to read about product reviews, share outfits of the day, learn about fashion tips, and discover high-quality brands. Since RED reviews could directly impact sales, it’s one of the most important social media channels for brand marketing. Walk The Talk explains more here (English) 💡 Mailman Take: The recent partnership announcement with CCTV and the women’s national football team has put Xiaohongshu in the spotlight. Sports organisations should start paying closer attention to the app/platform, particularly if they want to start engaging a younger female audience.


🗞️ Other News China Unites Online Amid Flooding Disaster Netizens are using social media to help speed up rescue efforts after flood levels rose in Henan province. From sharing public health information to contacts for support, China's Weibo platform became an online space connecting people seeking help with rescue teams. Encouraging hashtags such as "Henan, stay strong!" also quickly went viral. Read more on BBC (English) and Sina (Chinese)


📢 From The Top 🗣️ Grace Li, Head of Communications Asia Pacific at Evonik

1. How did BVB and Evonik activate during the recent virtual summer tour in China?

Evonik has been the main sponsor and partner of Borussia Dortmund since 2007. Starting from the 2020/2021 season, Evonik has been supporting Borussia Dortmund as the main sponsor in international competitions and all German cup games.

BVB’s 2021 summer virtual tour – 9 days around the world, is also powered by Evonik as an international main sponsor. Besides the brand exposure, we gain from various digital channels in and outside of China, our colleagues and their families were invited to join an offline event hosted by BVB.

We also organised a dedicated program for our employees to have a special black and yellow experience.

2. What value does BVB bring to a brand such as Evonik, particularly in China?

As a leading specialty chemicals company, Evonik’s company purpose is: “Leading beyond chemistry to improve life, today and tomorrow.” The purpose frames Evonik’s overarching understanding of our role of doing business and defines our contribution to society beyond generating profits.

Evonik’s business is not about manufacturing chemical products, but developing sustainable solutions together with its partners. Evonik cultivates creativity, passion, team spirit, and diversity – not just in the laboratory but also on the football field. As China has one of BVB’s biggest fan bases internationally, the partnership with BVB offers us good opportunities to communicate what the Evonik brand stands for.

3. Having partnered with BVB in China for a long time, what are some of the standout collaborations both sides have worked on in recent years?

Evonik has cooperated successfully with BVB for various forms of activations to engage our key stakeholders, including employees, customers, and partners. Our recent collaboration themed around “Beyond Football” really went “beyond” and put an emphasis on social values. Evonik and Borussia Dortmund share the same belief and social values: we are committed to fighting antisemitism, racism, and any kind of discrimination, and to advocating diversity, inclusion, and corporate social responsibility.

As part of our “Beyond Football” corporate social responsibility efforts, the BVB Evonik Football Academy went to Enshi, Hubei province in 2020 and provided professional training courses to underprivileged children. The Academy leverages the emotional power of football to also raise awareness for football’s social values.

4. As this is a global partnership, what learnings have Evonik Global taken from how you operate with BVB in China?

Many ideas were discussed between the China teams and put into action swiftly with our joint efforts. While we have a global partnership, the activations are best done based on local needs. I believe this is a common understanding of both BVB and Evonik to make a successful partnership.


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