China Sports Business Weekly | 26th November
Hello Industry Friends, here are the very latest news and insights from China.
📰 Headlines: Olympics content fuels Kuaishou growth, DRL and Qi-Yuan partner to inspire innovation, Australia’s NBL lands on Dongqiudi, MLB Productions launches ‘My First Baseball Lesson’, China & US team up in mixed doubles first, Weibo purchases Suning LPL spot. 🗣 In this week’s From The Top, Gary Mi, Director of Operations China at the Drone Racing League (DRL), spoke about recent DRL events in China, tailoring content for Kuaishou, dealing with changes in gaming restrictions, opportunities ahead in 2022, and record social engagement.
🗞️ Top Industry News Olympics Content Fuels Kuaishou Growth The short video platform’s big Q3, which resulted in a 33.4% jump in revenue, has Tokyo 2020 to thank as Olympics-related content gained 73B in views and 6B in engagement. Kuaishou has also established its own ‘sports business center’ to centralise its sports and fan creator content. Time spent on sports content on the platform grew 150% from the same period last year. Read more on Ecosports (Chinese) 💡Mailman Take: Slow to dive into sports at first, Kuaishou is now leading the short form video race in terms of sports content. And as the creator economy in China is booming, across all industries, 25% of active users are content creators on the platform. These creators are your most natural way to build an authentic connection with your audience. DRL and Hangzhou Qi-Yuan Partner to Inspire Technology Innovation The Drone Racing League’s (DRL) strategic partnership with Hangzhou-based Qi-Yuan aims to accelerate the development of drone pilots, engineers and developers. Naming DRL as their Official Drone Simulator partner, the Hangzhou government will endorse the league’s DRL SIM, a true-to-life drone racing simulator to help students discover new drone skills, like learning how to fly and build drones. Read more on Beijing Evening News (Chinese) Australia’s NBL Signs Deal with Dongqiudi The Chinese digital sports platform acquired the rights for Australia’s National Basketball League from 2021-22 to 2022-23. Dongqiudi will cover all matches live, delayed and via highlights and clips. NBL interest has been growing in China thanks to two Chinese national team players in the league, Liu Chuanxing and Zhou Qi. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and PP Sports (Chinese) MLB Productions China Launches 'My First Baseball Lesson' The China-specific six-part video series invites influencers from various industries to attend their first-ever baseball lesson. At the series' official Media Day in Beijing, more than 25 social influencers from different sports industries participated in their first baseball clinic delivered by MLB Development Center coaches. Read more on Ecosports (Chinese)
China & US Team Up for Mixed Doubles at World Championships For the first time ever, Chinese and American players will team up at the World Table Tennis Championships Finals held from November 23 to 29 in Houston. China's Lin Gaoyuan and Wang Manyu will partner with American players Lily Zhang and Kanak Jha, respectively. Read more on CGTN (English) and Xinhua (Chinese)
WTT Installs Enlio as Official Flooring Supplier Enlio, a supplier of a wide range of flooring, has a long-standing relationship with table tennis. An ITTF sponsor since 2013, Enlio will provide black flooring to the inaugural WTT Cup Finals. Read more on WTT (English) and NetEase (Chinese) Guangzhou Evergrande Stadium Set for Auction The half-built 100K-seater football stadium being developed by financially challenged property developer Evergrande has been reclaimed by the local government and will be auctioned off. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Xinhua (Chinese)
Weibo Purchases Suning LPL spot Chinese microblogging and social media platform Weibo has purchased a slot in League of Legends’ franchised league, the LPL, from esports organisation Suning Gaming. The agreement sees Suning renamed as Weibo Gaming. Read more on Esports Insider (English) and The Beijing News (Chinese)
Surging Esports Market vs Limited Online Gaming for Minors
A look at the balancing act esports is having to take following recent restrictive regulations made by China’s National Press and Publication Administration in August. Read more on Shine (English)
🗞️ Other news
Kuaishou Revenue Rises 33% Amid Tech Crackdown
The company’s revenue reached $3.2B, beating estimates as the company contends with tightened regulations and competition The short video platform became one of the worst-performing tech stocks this year amid Beijing’s crackdowns on big tech companies and internet content. Read more on SCMP (English) and Finance Net (Chinese) Tencent Needs Approval Before Publishing New Apps & Updates
The move comes after regulators found several apps made by Tencent violated data protection rules on a number of occasions this year. Tencent’s app approvals are currently suspended. Read more on CNBC (English) and The Beijing News (Chinese)
Bilibili Eyes Online Payments The popular online video sharing and entertainment platform has obtained a payment license after acquiring a majority stake in an online payment company Zhejiang Yongyi Payment Co Ltd for $18.5M. Read more on China Daily (English) and The Beijing News (Chinese)
🎫 Events The Second Annual Eurasian Sport Industry Conference Emlyon business school has joined hands with China’s top sport academy - Beijing Sport University to launch the Second Annual Eurasian Sport Industry Conference - Staging and Evaluating Sports Mega-Events, which will be held online on December 2, 2021. Read more in English & Chinese
📢 From The Top 🗣 Gary Mi, Director of Operations China at the Drone Racing League 1. It’s been a busy few months in China for DRL. What events have you been working or partnering with? How successful have these been?
It’s been incredibly exciting for the Drone Racing League, as we continue to engage millions of fans with our high-speed, technology-driven sport, develop innovative partnerships with leading organizations, and drive significant impact through educational programming with students.
We recently announced a strategic partnership with the Hangzhou government to inspire the next generation of drone pilots, engineers and developers. Naming DRL as their Official Drone Simulator partner, the government endorsed our DRL SIM, a true-to-life drone racing simulator available on Steam and Xbox, to help students discover new drone skills, like learning how to fly and build drones.
Together, we hosted our first China DRL SIM tournament, where top student competitors from 400 local schools raced high-speed drones through neon-colored courses in the DRL SIM. The race reached 16 million views, marking our highest live stream in China to date.
2. You launched on short-form video platform Kuaishou recently, how has your content suited this platform and what are you doing differently compared to other platforms?
DRL fans are Gen Z -- we reach young, global, tech-obsessed fans who love immersive sports like drone racing -- and we tailor our content across each platform to maximize engagement. On Kuaishou, we find short videos showcasing DRL SIM virtual drone racing competition performs best, whereas our more adventurous, FPV (First Person View) drone racing video content performs best on other platforms like Douyin.
3. Following China’s recent gaming regulations, has this impacted DRL at all, have you had to adjust your strategy in any way?
Despite the new gaming regulations, we've seen a rise in engagement around our DRL SIM. Both government entities, as well as private organizations, love the educational value of our DRL SIM game, which teaches players how to fly, build and race drones through training tutorials with real-time feedback, workbench drone-manufacturing stations, and identical maps to the ones the pros fly in our World Championship Season, opening their eyes to unique career opportunities around drones, science and technology.
4. As we look ahead to 2022, where do you see the biggest opportunities for DRL in China?
You’re going to see the Drone Racing League continue to create a new era of sports that combines virtual and real-life competition. We’ll capture the minds and hearts of next generation sports fans through live drone racing events at iconic venues, develop groundbreaking partnerships with leading companies, and curate the most visually stunning, immersive content in sports. China is our second-largest global market, DRL is the most followed drone brand on Weibo, national digital streaming of our races skyrocketed with 110% more viewership over the past year, and this is only the beginning.
5. DRL’s social performance in China continues to break records. Talk through some of your most successful content and campaigns?
DRL’s fast and visually spectacular drone racing content is made for digital consumption, and our fans love engaging and sharing DRL race events, pilot highlights, FPV mashups, and more on social. We always aim to culturalize, rather than simply localize, our content in China, spotlighting the incredibly talented community of drone pilots across the country. From recruiting professional pilots into the league through our Allianz China Invitational race to hosting DRL SIM tournaments that challenge the best drone racing players in China, we’ve seen millions of fans watch DRL and get involved in our sport.
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