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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 24th February

Hello Industry Friends, here is the very latest news and insights from China. 📰 Headlines: Ant Group and NBA China partner up, UFC China celebrates annual Gala Night, LaLiga cancels DTC Streamline deal, LA Sparks sign Yang Liwei, a blog on how brands need to get outdoors in China, the 10 biggest misconceptions about the Chinese esports industry, and China reports $21Bn in esports revenue in 2022.


🗞️ Top Industry News Ant Group and NBA China Launch Strategic Partnership The NBA’s partnership with the fintech giant in China will see cooperation in areas such as video content, programme broadcasting, and membership. Fans on the mainland gain access to NBA video content on Alipay, the popular payments app owned by Ant Group. NBA China has also been collaborating with Topnod since last year, Ant Group’s platform for digital collectibles, to provide fans with Spring Festival-themed digital collectibles. Read more on Reuters (English) and Tencent (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: The NBA has landed another major partnership with another major platform in China. Only a handful of sports organisations have agreed partnerships with Alipay previously, such as UEFA, LaLiga, and Manchester City. The NBA has gone from predominantly working on content with only Tencent to amassing content and broadcast partnerships with the likes of Migu, Kuaishou, and now Alipay. The most popular Western sports organisation in China shows no signs of slowing down.


UFC China Celebrates with Athletes & Partners at Shanghai Gala Night Following a big 12 months for China’s stars in the UFC, the organisation celebrated with colleagues, partners, and fighters at the star-studded “UFC Gala Night” last Saturday: a mix of fine dining, awards, speeches, and celebrations that highlighted just how far UFC has come in the region. Read more on Ecosports (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: China opening up means more live sports events returning, and millions of fans are hoping to see the UFC pack out arenas across the country again. The UFC has an exciting roster of young Chinese talent emerging, matched with the world-class UFC Performance Institute Shanghai, Chinese Olympic Committee partnership, and current world strawweight champion - 2023 is set to be another bumper year for the world’s #1 MMA organisation.


LaLiga Cancels DTC Streamline Deal The OTT streaming service set up in China by LaLiga, is ceasing broadcasts just over six months into a long-term agreement with the Chinese firm Streamline Media Technology. LaLiga announced broadcasts would end “for reasons beyond the competition’s control” and “due to problems unrelated” to the league. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and NetEase (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: Disappointment for the concept of Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) media rights in China, showing that currently, the best route forward is still partnering with media platforms like Migu and iQiyi Sports. That said, we are still bullish about the future of DTC platforms without the bundling of live rights (see Mailman DTC white paper here). Other features including gaming, ticketing, merchandise, and even digital collectibles provide a less risky business model with low investment required. Physical Challenge Awaits China Women in Busy Calendar, Says Captain Wang The China women's football team will be tested physically during a busy schedule, with the players due to participate in the Asian Games and Olympic qualifiers after the World Cup, captain Wang Shanshan said on Thursday. China, runners-up at the 1999 World Cup, are in Group D with England, Haiti, and Denmark at this year's World Cup, which will be held in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to Aug. 20. Read more on Reuters (English) LA Sparks Sign Yang Liwei The Los Angeles Sparks announced today the signing of Chinese guard Yang Liwei. She becomes the second Chinese-born player to suit up for the Sparks, joining Zheng Haixia, who was drafted by the Sparks in 1997. Read more on WNBA (English) and Guangming Daily (Chinese)


🤔 Opinion State of the Nation: As China Opens Up Brands Need to Get Outdoors Too As China reopens and people get back outside, brands have an opportunity to join them and engage them through innovative, technology-driven activations. In the latest State of the Nation, Yi Ji, senior business director at 160over90, an Endeavor company, writes that China has always valued face-to-face interaction and, after recent years, it's more valuable than ever. Read more on The Drum (English) 10 Biggest Misconceptions About the Chinese Esports Industry While the esports industry’s size and growth in the past decade are hard to ignore, it’s also worth noting that its unique history and cultural context within China might be misunderstood by some. So here, we look at 10 misconceptions about the Chinese esports industry. Read more on DAO (English)


🎮 Esports China Reports $21Bn in ‘Esports Revenue’ in 2022 The China Audio-video and Digital Publishing Association (CADPA) and the Shenzhen Nanshan government hosted the 2022 China Esports Annual Conference in Shenzhen, with The Electronic Sports Committee (ESC) of CADPA reporting that the Chinese esports industry generated revenues of $21Bn in 2022, which marked a decrease of 14.01% year-over-year compared to 2021. Read more on Esports Advocate (English)


Mailman is China’s leading sports digital agency. We exist at the intersection of digital & sports. We help top sports organisations & brands to build sustainable businesses in China, one of the world's most challenging markets. Mailman is part of the Endeavor network. Learn more about our story here.

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