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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 24th December

From everyone at Mailman, we’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Making the festive headlines this week: LA Lakers claim top spot in the 2020 NBA Red Card, Nike’s China revenue surges, Kuaishou and NFL team up, FIFA and Dalian Pro agree to innovation partnership, Kuaishou eyes $50B IPO.

As we come to the end of an extraordinary year, we spoke to some of the key decision-makers in China’s sports industry to get their biggest takeaways from 2020 and what they’re looking forward to in 2021.

Top Industry News

1. LA Lakers Claim Top Spot in the NBA Red Card 2020 The fourth edition of the NBA Red Card: China Digital Performance Index is a comprehensive assessment on the digital performance of NBA teams, players, and legends throughout the year. The report also provides a guide to broader NBA digital trends, interests, and insights. This year saw the LA Lakers dethrone the Warriors after three years at the top, while Steph Curry took leading player, and Dwayne Wade won most popular legend online in China. Read the in English & Chinese, and more on SCMP (English) and Lanxiong Sports (Chinese)

2. Nike’s Revenue Surges in China The sportswear giant reported growth across all regions, with revenues rising one percent in North America to $4B, while sales in Greater China were up 24 percent to $2.3B - the first time they’ve topped $2B. The rebound in China and ecommerce growth were key attributes to Nike’s surge. Read more on SportsPro (English) and Beijing News (Chinese) 3. Kuaishou & NFL Team Up on Promotional Content The NFL has reached a promotional partnership with Kuaishou, the fastest growing short-form video content platform in the country with over 300M daily active users. Promotional cooperation will include recruiting and incubating football influencers and content creators on Kuaishou’s platform. It will also include collaboration on NFL’s livestreaming production to promote the upcoming NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl. Read more on Ecosports (Chinese)

4. FIFA and Dalian Pro Partner for Football Technology Innovation Hub

The Chinese Super League (CSL) club’s collaboration with world football's governing body, FIFA, will result in the establishment of a Football Technology Innovation Hub at Dalian Pro's new state-of-the-art academy in Dalian. Facilitated by the FIFA Partner Dalian Wanda Group, the collaboration will run for an initial 3-year period. Both sides will work closely to continue the development of football in China with a specific focus on research, testing and developing standards for new technologies aimed primarily at youth and grassroots football. Read more on FIFA (English) and Xinhua (Chinese) 5. Kuaishou Eyes IPO The Chinese short-video company is reportedly planning to go public in Hong Kong on Feb 5th with a target valuation of $50B. The IPO of the world’s second-largest video sharing platform in terms of daily average users would be one of the first of the new year by a Chinese technology group. Read more on Pandaily (English) and Forbes (Chinese)

Esports Enters Esports has launched an esports phone alliance with local industry partners in Hainan province. The online ecommerce giant will offer special services for gamers, including a trial service, a network guarantee, and one-hour delivery. It will also provide training for professional gamers while trying to lure new fans by working across some of China’s hottest trends: livestreaming (on platforms like Huya), consumer-to-manufacturer (C2M) products with a variety of brands, and brick-and-mortar experience shops. Read more on Jing Daily (English) and Do News (Chinese)

Other News

Bilibili and Marvel Team-Up for End of Year Gala Marvel Studios announced it is having a musical performance on New Year's Eve which is going to come complete with a preview of what's to come in 2021. The musical event will be airing during the Bilibili New Year's concert which targets a young audience in China. China is one of the largest box offices in the world, often outperforming the rest of the world for certain movie titles. Read more on Sina (Chinese)

From The Top

Kevin Chang, SVP APAC, UFC

What's your biggest takeaway from 2020?

Be nimble, informed and able to react to things you cannot control. Have a solid but flexible strategy that serves as the North Star to guide your decisions depending on what’s happening in the world around you. Do everything above and beyond to make sure people are safe. Find solutions and prove people wrong.

What are you most looking forward to in 2021?

The world to beat this pandemic, open up and allow us to carry on with our mission in Asia.

Richard Young, Managing Director China, NFL

What's your biggest takeaway from 2020? Sport is a selling business, not a buying business. Many sports leagues, platforms and organizations were lauded for what they had acquired or purchased, but profit and return on investment is the right measurement of success. 2020 will ultimately be a catalyst to mature the business of sport.

What are you most looking forward to in 2021? There are great opportunities for sport in Asia and particularly China. With a focus on value, the business can grow in a stable fashion and form the foundation for what will be the biggest market in the world.

Nikki Wang, Head of sports business China, Deloitte

What's your biggest takeaway from 2020?

Invest in digital capabilities. Now could be the perfect time for sport businesses to enhance their digital capabilities. COVID accelerated digital transformation for sports organisations, and they now need to think more strategically about what platforms could help engage fans, connect deeper on social media, and communicate with partners and vendors.

What are you most looking forward to in 2021?

Technology such as computer vision, machine learning, advanced wireless connectivity, and wearable sensors are transforming how athletes train, compete, and manage their careers. Looking forward to seeing how data is changing the sports world both on-pitch and off-pitch. Meanwhile it’s interesting to see how professional sports leagues can best use it and how to do so ethically.

Li Shuangfu, Co-founder & President, Lanxiong Sports

What's your biggest takeaway from 2020? Get ready to change. React and respond quickly. Never waste a good crisis.

What are you most looking forward to in 2021?

New technologies. The pandemic is changing the industry. While some companies are dying, new ideas and opportunities will for sure emerge.

Benjamin Wahl, Head of China, BVB

What's your biggest takeaway from 2020? Two perspectives: 2020 hit the football industry and BVB in Germany very hard. Nevertheless we were able to welcome several new partners within the BVB family, we were the first football club to execute digital fan parties online with millions of spectators and by the end of the year BVB fan events on the ground in China were possible as well.

What are you most looking forward to in 2021? If the circumstances allow it, the most precious thing would be to have the football fans back in the stadiums. We are missing the Yellow Wall a lot in Dortmund. I am excited to have further BVB fan parties in China, to expand our BVB youth football projects and to facilitate our BVB CSR projects in China in 2021. I wish everyone a merry Christmas and a safe & healthy 2021!

Tony Qi, Managing Director, MLB China What's your biggest takeaway from 2020?

Covid-19 pressed the pause button for the global sports industry while also providing opportunities to drive fan engagement through digital strategies. By launching MLB Productions, we produced a series of original short form videos, educating the market about baseball culture from different perspectives such as sports, food, fashion, movies etc. Meanwhile, we also partnered with the China Baseball Association, local education bureau and sports bureau to bring entry- level baseball classes to campuses in Wuxi, Beijing and Shanghai.

What are you most looking forward to in 2021?

In 2021, we will expand MLB First Pitch Clinic to more campuses across China to increase baseball participation at youth level. Meanwhile, we’ll produce more diverse local content to bond with local fans and explore more crossover collaborations with different partners to grow our fan base in China. With baseball back at the Tokyo Olympics, this will definitely contribute to the popularity of baseball in China.

Chen Diandian, Co-founder, Ecosports

What's your biggest takeaway from 2020?

It was a tough year for sports and the people who are involved in this business. However, we believe companies and corporations which are able to survive in the market will experience a significant development for the next few years. My biggest takeaway is seeing sport is getting increasingly important within Chinese society and finding more real business opportunities in the sport market.

What are you most looking forward to in 2021?

Initially, I hope the shadow of COVID-19 will fade away worldwide so the Olympics and the Euro Cup will go ahead as planned. The ultimate goal for 2021 is creating more high-quality content for the sports market and providing various services for our partners.


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