• Denis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 27th November

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


Making headlines this week: The AFC announces partnership with China Mobile Migu, cyclists compete in Giro d’Italia’s Ride Like a Pro Shanghai event, MLB and China Baseball Association cooperate for First Pitch Clinic, Leeds United team up with Roc Nation for Asia & US entry, and Tencent Music Entertainment Group invests in Wave.


In this week’s From The Top, we spoke with John Steere, Acting CEO Endeavor China and Managing Director of 160over90, about this year’s Ride Like a Pro event, difficulties organising, commercialing events in 2020, and the upcoming SneakerCon 2020.


Top Industry News


1. The Asian Football Confederation Announces Partnership with China Mobile Migu

The partnership for the 2021-2024 rights cycle was led by Super Sports Media and Football Marketing Asia (FMA) – the exclusive commercial partner of AFC competitions up to 2028. Extensive coverage includes all major AFC national team and club competitions including the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar Final Round, the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 and the AFC Champions League 2021-2024. Read more on AFC (English) and Ecosports (Chinese)

Mailman Take: In a currently unpredictable broadcast market, the AFC has chosen wisely. State-owned China Mobile Migu has a history for landing the big rights when it matters, such as the FIFA World Cup. The 2023 Asian Cup will be a pivotal moment for China to show the world it’s ready to host the quadrennial FIFA showpiece.

2. Cyclists Compete in Giro d’Italia’s Ride Like a Pro Shanghai Event

The popular cycle race in the Yangtze River Delta Ecology and Greenery Integration Demonstration Zone includes amateurs and professionals from China and abroad. The "Ride Like a Pro," managed by Giro d'Italia, Italy's equivalent of the Tour de France, took place on Dianshan Lake Avenue. Altogether, over 10K enthusiasts competed throughout the weekend event. Read more on China Daily (English) and Tencent (Chinese)


3. MLB and China Baseball Association Cooperate for First Pitch Clinic

The MLB First Pitch Clinic was officially launched in Shanghai, and Co-hosted by Major League Baseball (MLB), Shanghai Putuo District Education Bureau and Shanghai Putuo District Sports Bureau. At the event, the China Baseball Association and MLB reached an agreement which will see the two parties work together to bring First Pitch Clinic to more regions across the country. Read more on Xinhua (Chinese)

4. Leeds United Team Up with Roc Nation for Asia & US Entry

The collaboration will focus on growing the Leeds brand across the United States and Asia. Roc Nation aims to work with Leeds to reach audiences through three partnership verticals of brand amplification: creative activation, and PR and marketing; digital strategy and execution and content development; and commercial sales. Read more on SportsPro (English) or Netease (Chinese) Mailman Take: A big opportunity to make a real mark in Asia, but there’s a lot of catching up to do. The club’s history, ambitious owner and marketable manager are a good fit to engage Chinese fans. However, the real task will be winning over the younger generations which are spoilt for choice when it comes to entertainment.


5. Extreme E Signs Huya partnership

The new electric off-road racing series’ partnership with Chinese live streaming platform Huya, which starts in early 2021, will be streamed on the live streaming platform in China with a community of over 250M. As well as live content, Huya will also deliver highlights and shoulder content. Read more on AT (English) and Sports Idea (Chinese)


6. Wu Lei’s Espanyol Partners with KTO in China Deal

The Spanish side which currently competes in the Segunda División agreed the sponsorship deal in Asia with KTO, which initially runs until the end of this season. KTO will have rights to use the club’s trademarks in China as well as image rights and advertising on non-Spanish facing club digital platforms. Read more on Inside World Football (English) and Tencent (Chinese) Esports

Leading Chinese livestreaming company Huya announced strategic cooperation with the Communications University of China to jointly set up Zhongchuan Huya Esports Research Center. Read more on Zaker (China) Newsletter

Upswing has launched a survey to better understand the lack of female diversity in sport industry events and conferences. One of their aims is to provide actionable recommendations for companies and organisers that want to help remedy the situation. Click here to share your opinion.


Opinion South China Morning Post’s Jonathan White looks at the possibility of two Chinese MMA fighters challenging for the title in China. “The UFC might be the new kid on the block when it comes to China but it is primed to out-punch the sports that got there first.” Read the full opinion piece on SCMP (English)


Entertainment Tencent Music Entertainment Group Invests in Wave

The strategic partnership and minority equity investment in Wave, the market leader in interactive virtual entertainment experiences, will see Tencent Music Entertainment (TME) broadcast Wave experiences in China across all of its platforms including QQ Music, Kugou Music, Kuwo Music, and WeSing. This collaboration will also allow the development of virtual concert content for TME Live, an innovative live performance brand under TME, which pioneers the integration of offline concerts with an online experience. Read more on PR Newswire (English) and Forbes China (Chinese)


Mailman in Asia What we've been up to across Asia this week


The Master’s Impact

Replica of a local popular Bollywood movie poster for Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho’s 1- year anniversary at the club.


Paying tribute to teachers in Indonesia

Chelsea’s tribute to teachers via Zoom which describes the current situation Indonesia is in. Homeschooling has become a norm over the past 9 months.

From The Top John Steere, Acting CEO Endeavor China and Managing Director of 160over90


1. Can you give me a brief background to the concept around the Ride Like a Pro event?


Ride Like A Pro is a branded event under Giro d'italia. The principle concept is to help and encourage everyone to "ride like a pro".


First, we wanted to bring this global IP, one of the most famous cycling tournaments, to China, not only from a cycling promoter standpoint but also as a cultural facilitator. Visualise a fun and engaging carnival for all cycling fans. It's an event that you can spend an afternoon enjoying cycling, food & drink, performances, and various kinds of games with your friends and family.


Second, the Yangtze River Delta Integrated Development is a major national strategy. We thought it would be fantastic if we could build this event as the sports name card for the demo area of green and integrated ecological development of the Yangtze River Delta. So this year we extended our cycling track along the zone and connected many cultural and natural landscapes. By doing this, more than just bringing a global IP into China, we are also introducing the wonderful Yangtze River Delta to the world.


2. This year's event looked like a big success. Were you pleased with the outcomes?


We are very pleased with what we have achieved this year, given the various difficulties going on. The leaders of the local governments, event participants and media all spoke highly of this event.


3. How difficult was it to organize and commercialize this event given everything that has happened this year in China?


Things were frenetic especially those working closely with the health commission. Having a complete and well-implemented pandemic prevention system has been a crucial part of this year’s event, especially making corresponding countermeasures and rapid adjustments for the changing epidemic situation. Obviously we have emphasized the importance of the race system and epidemic prevention than in previous years to the riders.


And finally, as this year's track is extended to Qingpu, Wujiang, and Jiashan, the coordination and communication between the three governments require us to be more careful, detailed and thoughtful.


But despite all these complications, we still managed to bring this show on to quite a positive response from everyone involved. A big shout-out to my colleagues for a job extremely well done.


4. What role does 160/90 play in these types of offline events?


160/90 has now grown into a full-service marketing and creative agency for the entire event. From online campaigns to offline activations, we promote and deliver the event. We work with the media to reach the fan base. We cooperate with a number of traditional and mass media outlets to amplify the influence and expand brand awareness of the IP. We partner with new media and short video platforms to attract attention and drive traffic in the social field through hashtags and topic interaction, social challenges, KOL promotion, etc. For example, this year Ride Like A Pro set up #justrideit on Douyin and reached 130+ million views – that’s pretty impressive considering cycling is still a growing activity compared to other mainstream sports.


5. SneakerCon 2020 is coming up in Shanghai next month. What can we expect and what's the secret around the phenomenal growth this event has witnessed in China in recent years?


I'm pretty certain it's going to be a huge event. SneakerCon is primarily an opportunity for us to talk to Gen Y/Z Chinese consumers. Everyone knows this is a generation of people with personalities who like to do what they love to do. But very few large-scale offline activities can combine fashion, streetwear, sneakers, culture, and youth lifestyle all in one venue for this targeted generation. I think it’s a testament to the power of the SneakerCon brand ethos along with absolute alignment to their target audience. --


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