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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 26th March

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

Making headlines this week: International brands face China backlash over Xijiang statements, the CBA agrees deals with Weibo and Sportradar, SINA de-lists from NASDAQ, ByteDance set to acquire Nuverse for US$4B, NFL bench press challenge goes viral, and Kuaishou reports a stellar 2020.

In this week’s From The Top, we spoke with Celine Shao, Head of Digital at the Chinese Basketball Association, about the organisation's latest deals with Kuaishou and Weibo.

Top Industry News

1. International Brands Face China Backlash from Xinjiang Statements Major Western apparel brands, including H&M and Nike, are facing a boycott in China following statements made against the alleged use of forced labor to produce cotton in Xinjiang. H&M and Nike stated months ago that they were concerned about allegations that forced labor has been used to produce cotton in Xinjiang. These statements have resurfaced in recent days, causing huge uproar on Chinese social media, as well as influencing a large number of Chinese celebrities to cut ties with the Western brands. Read more on CNN (English) and Global Times (Chinese)

2. Weibo Agrees to Deal with the CBA for the League’s Short-Form Video Rights The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) and Weibo have reached a five-year strategic cooperation, meaning Weibo will become a strategic social media partner of the CBA, as well as an official CBA fan community platform. Weibo will provide CBA fans with a richer and more comprehensive interactive experience of CBA short-form video and online live broadcasts, and encourage premium users to create their own CBA-related content. Read more on Sports Money (Chinese)

3. Sportradar Agrees to Multi-year Partnership with CBA League The multi-year global partnership, which begins from the current 2020/21 season, will see CBA League's regular-season games, postseason games, and All-Star games distributed to broadcasters, streaming and OTT platforms in territories outside of Greater China. Fans will have the ability to access short-form video content, in addition to full game coverage throughout the season. Read more on SportsPro (English) and Lanxiong (Chinese)

4. Lyon Announces AliExpress as Short-Term Sleeve Sponsor Olympique Lyonnais has landed online retail service AliExpress as its shirt sleeve rights sponsor for the remainder of the 2020/21 season. The Alibaba-owned ecommerce brand will benefit from a marketing package of digital activations on the club’s media, along with activities around Lyon’s matches. Read more on Insider Sport (English) and Ecosports (Chinese)

5. China Considers Lifetime Bans for Dopers China’s top sports authority is considering stricter anti-doping rules for athletes representing the country. The General Administration of Sport of China said athletes who receive doping-related bans adding up to more than one year shall be permanently barred from competing on behalf of China. China’s current anti-doping regulation, adopted in 2014, includes no provisions for lifetime bans. Read more on Sixth Tone (English) and Haiwainet (Chinese)

6. Juventus Launches Ecommerce Store on DEWU DEWU, which has 80M monthly active users, is a new generation online shopping platform in China, with more than 80% of the consumers from Gen Z. Juventus becomes the first European football club to launch a store on the app. Read more on Ecosports (Chinese)

7. Zhibo.TV Agrees 5-year Deal with MotoGP The deal includes media rights for the MotoGP motorcycle racing world championship, beginning with the 2021 season, as well as the Moto2 and Moto3 support series, and MotoE esports series. Coverage will be available via the app and will include a selection of different camera angles during live race broadcasts. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Huanqiu (Chinese)

Esports ByteDance to Acquire Moonton for US$4B The company’s video games unit Nuverse has agreed to acquire Shanghai-based gaming studio Moonton Technology. The deal reportedly values the gaming studio at around $4B, and is a major step in ByteDance’s investment into the gaming industry and attempting to catch up with the dominant Tencent. Read more on Reuters (English) and Sina (Chinese) Mailman Take: Despite this unlikely opening the door for MLBB to finally enter the China market, this puts ByteDance and Nuverse on the table to significantly shift the local and wider Asia gaming landscape. We expect to see more investments now from Nuverse across other levels of the supply chain as they go head to head with Tencent.

Trending Content

NFL Launches Viral Bench Press Challenge As a creative way to tie into their current offseason calendar and showcase the strength of their athletes, the NFL launched a Douyin #NFLBenchPress challenge, driving traffic & engagement around ongoing NFL Pro Days (usually the NFL Scouting Combine period). The challenge has attracted participation from not only the local football community, but also a crossover audience of gym enthusiasts, and influencers from the fitness and weightlifting community with total views surpassing 15 million. There have been a total of 158 participants to date, with 15+ of them being big-name KOLs and KOCs, a handful each with over 2M followers.

Other News

Tencent, Warner Music to Launch Joint Venture Record Label in China Tencent Music Entertainment (TME) Group and Warner Music have announced an expanded multi-year strategic licensing agreement that will also see the companies collaborate on a new joint venture record label. As part of the expanded agreement, TME will continue to make Warner Music’s repertoire available across all its online music platforms in mainland China. Read more on Variety (English) and NetEase (Chinese) Kuaishou Reports Stellar 2020 with Strong Revenue Growth The Chinese video sharing platform recorded a 50% jump in revenue as well as growth in active users in its first report card following an IPO in Hong Kong. These active users spent an average of 87 minutes per day on the app last year. Kuaishou also reported $9B in revenue for 2020, an increase from around $6B in 2019. Average daily active users for the year 2020 reached 264.6M, an increase of 50.7% from 175.6M in 2019. Average monthly active users was at 481.1M, an increase of 45.6% from the year before. Read more on Pandaily (English) and Tencent (Chinese)

SINA Delisted from NASDAQ SINA.US has completed the merger with wholly-owned subsidiary New Wave Merger Sub Limited under the previously-signed merger agreement and plan. SINA will no longer be a listed company and has informed SEC to delist its common shares from NASDAQ. Read more on PR Newswire (English) and Sohu (Chinese)

From The Top

Celine Shao, Head of Digital at the Chinese Basketball Association.

1. The CBA has deepened its cooperation with Kuaishou. What has changed from the previous agreement signed in 2019?

The previous agreement with Kuaishou was a pure sponsorship deal. Now it includes live content and short-form videos, as well as classic games and archive footage. Kuaishou will become an even more appealing location for basketball fans, since it has already gained a lot of grassroots basketball fans and content creators.

2. Third-party creators will now be integrated into live broadcasts. How will this change the viewing experience for fans and why did the CBA & Kuaishou decide to choose this strategy?

CBA and Kuaishou will together integrate a new viewing experience including third-party commentators and basketball KOLs to join live broadcasts. Third-party creators can produce unique content with licensed CBA content, which will encourage more basketball fans and professional creators to help CBA expand its content and make a new link between CBA and the fans. This strategy is about going with the trend of young netizens of China and providing more interesting ways to enjoy basketball.

3. What is it about Kuaishou that makes it such an appealing partner to the CBA, what other opportunities do you see with the platform in the future?

Kuaishou is a unique platform with more than 300 million DAUs. On this platform, CBA has the opportunity to reach fans from different tiers of cities and do creative campaigns. In the future, CBA and its sponsors and Kuaishou will provide consumer products using Kuaishou’s ecommerce ecosystem during live broadcasts. We look forward to bringing new commercial ideas and opportunities with Kuaishou.

4. As well as Kuaishou, the CBA just announced a five-year cooperation with Weibo. Can you tell us more about this partnership and what's unique about it?

Weibo is China’s leading social network. The league, clubs and CBA players have launched & managed lots of official accounts on Weibo accumulating in huge follower numbers. The 5-year strategic partnership with Weibo will allow fans to watch sections of live games, including regular-season games, All-Star weekends, playoffs, and the finals, as well as short-form videos. The CBA looks forward to bringing its social assets to the next level. --

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