Here are the top China sports business news stories you need to know from this week, and my From the Top interview is with Jay Li, Vice President/General Manager of Greater China at World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), where we discuss WWE’s latest partnership extension with PP Sports and the build-up to WWE Shanghai in September.
PINGAN Announced as Paris Saint-Germain Regional China Partner
Global football club Paris Saint-Germain has announced an official regional partnership with China’s biggest insurance company, PINGAN, which becomes Paris Saint-Germain’s official partner in China for next season. The partnership marks a new milestone for Paris Saint-Germain as part of its Asian development strategy, following on from the establishment of an Asia-Pacific HQ based in Singapore last year and a Chinese office in Shanghai. Read more on PSG (English) and Lanxiong Sports (Chinese)
Mailman Take: Perfect timing for PINGAN to leverage off PSG’s growing fan base in Asia, as the club will arrive in China next month on 3-match Summer Tour. Star power is key in China for fans when choosing a club, and PSG is certainly not short of that. With 25% of their fanbase residing in Asia, I expect there to be fanfare and fandom at every location throughout their tour.
WWE and PP Sports Extend Partnership
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and prominent Chinese sports digital broadcaster PP Sports have signed a 5-year extension for weekly live WWE programming across China. PP Sports will also put WWE content on its co-managed digital platforms Youku and Migu, increasing the reach of WWE programming in China. Read more on Sport Business (English) and Lanxiong Sports (Chinese)
Mailman Take: In the competitive playground of media rights, having an established and trusted partner with commitment to market is key. WWE fits the bill for PP Sports: China office, local events each year, and tryouts for Chinese athletes.
FUN88 Brings on Kobe Bryant as Official Ambassador
Online casino and sports betting operator Fun88 has deepened its sporting links by bringing on basketball legend Kobe Bryant as a brand ambassador. Kobe Bryant and Fun88 will work together across several key markets, including the UK and Asia. Read more on SBC (English) and Ecosports (Chinese)
Mailman Take: When a brand brings on Kobe as an ambassador, it immediately enhances and grows its brand globally, particularly in China, and creates a stronger bond between the brand and consumer. Kobe is proving to be as hard-working and shrewd off the court as he was on it. Oscars, novels, brand ambassador roles and personal ecommerce stores are just some business lines Kobe has successfully adapted to.
Mengniu and Coca-Cola Become Joint Top IOC Sponsor The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the mega partnership between US beverage giant Coca-Cola and China Mengniu Dairy. The joint advertising deal covers the 12 years leading up to 2032, which includes four Summer Olympics and two Winter Olympics. It also includes marketing rights for the Paralympic Games and the Youth Olympics. Read more on CNN (English) and Fortune China (Chinese)
Mailman Take: Signed at a reported $3 billion, this deal provides a major financial injection for the IOC, and adds Mengniu to a growing roster of top sponsors from Asia, including Bridgestone, Toyota and Alibaba. It’s also positive to see companies from China and the US partnering during a period of tension and debate. I also expect Mengniu competitor Yili will have more to say on this matter in the coming weeks and months.
In Other News
Leaders Announce First Speakers for Shanghai Event
The third edition of The Sport Business Summit, China, in Shanghai this July, will feature some of the biggest names in sport business. To learn more about this event and how to register, click here.
Gao Jisheng Appointed Chairman of Southampton FC
English Premier League club Southampton FC have confirmed Chinese businessman Gao Jisheng as its Chairman. Gao Jisheng, Southampton's majority shareholder who bought an 80 percent stake in the club in 2017, replaced Ralph Krueger, who stepped down towards the end of last season. Read more on Xinhua (English) and PP Sports (Chinese)
China Esports Market to Hit $1.9 Billion in 2019
The Chinese domestic esports audience is set to hit 350 million, and revenues to reach $1.9 billion, this year, according to a report by Tencent’s Penguin Intelligence. Read more on Sport Business (English) and Sina (Chinese)
From the Top
This week I spoke to Jay Li, Vice President/General Manager of Greater China at World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), where we discuss WWE’s latest partnership extension with PP Sports and the build-up to WWE Shanghai in September.
1. The 5-year extension of WWE's partnership with PP Sports is a clear sign of WWE's commitment and success in the China market. What can we expect to see over the next 3-5 years as part of this partnership extension?WWE has always had a long term commitment to the China market. Since our partnership with PP Sports began we have worked closely together to achieve our primary goals of super-serving our passionate fans here and broadening our reach throughout the territory. We look forward to the next phase of our partnership, which will focus on growing short form content consumption across multiple platforms, expanding localization efforts to bring relevant content to our Chinese fans and driving WWE Network subscriptions.
2. WWE is currently recruiting Chinese athletes. Its largest tryout to date in China will occur in Shanghai mid-July. What does the future hold for these athletes and why is it so important to help promote local heroes and athletes? In 2016, we held our first ever talent tryout in China and the results were incredible. To date, four Chinese talent are training at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, U.S., and Xia Li, the first Chinese woman to compete in a WWE ring, earlier this year delivered an action-packed performance at the WWE Women’s Royal Rumble event. These Superstars are all local heroes in the eyes of our fans, and are examples of our localization strategy paying off as we continue to find and cultivate Chinese talent. From July 15-18, we are excited to return to China with an even larger tryout, which we are confident will deliver another class of qualified recruits. Applications to participate in the tryout can be submitted via the PP Sports website.
3. WWE Shanghai takes place this September. How are preparations going and what can WWE fans hope to experience, both online and offline, around this event? 2019 marks the 20-year anniversary of SmackDown Live, and with that remarkable milestone, we are pleased to be bringing our SmackDown Superstars to Shanghai with a live event on September 21 at the Mercedes Benz Arena. In addition to Superstars like Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens, Charlotte Flair, and the New Day performing, our fans can also expect to see our Chinese superstar Xia Li’s China debut. With family-friendly in-ring action and opportunities to engage with WWE Superstars outside of the ring, WWE Live Shanghai promises to be a truly memorable experience for WWE’s growing fanbase in China. -- Now you can subscribe to our China Sports Business Weekly brief and have it delivered directly to you, wherever you are. Mailman is a global sports digital agency and marketing platform. We help global rights holders, athletes and brands build a successful business across China, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Learn more about our story here