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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 29th July

Hello Industry Friends, here are the very latest news and insights from China. 📰 Headlines: OPPO becomes UEFA Champions League’s first Chinese sponsor, Therabody sponsors China’s national basketball teams, the Chinese Basketball Association sues Bilibili, Manchester United launches on Bilibili, China reports $11.3B esports revenue for 2022, and 5 things you need to know about digital collectibles In China. 🗣 In this week’s From The Top, we spoke with Zhao Jingyang, Founder & CEO of FansMall about the various businesses and services that FansMall provides to collectors in China, the biggest trends for the trading card industry in China and how FansMall capitalised on those, the next step for the trading card and collectibles industry in China, FansMall business growth, and partnerships with sports IPs


🗞️ Top Industry News UEFA Champions League Lands First Chinese Sponsor in OPPO The two-year deal, which covers the 2022/23 and 2023/24 seasons, also includes the UEFA Super Cup, the UEFA Futsal Champions League Finals and the UEFA Youth League Finals. OPPO’s brand will appear on perimeter advertising, broadcast backdrops, and on UEFA’s official digital channels. Read more on SportsPro (English) and Eco Sports (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: OPPO is no stranger to sponsoring tier-1 international sporting competitions, having established partnerships with Wimbledon and the International Cricket Council. And with the reduced number of offline sports events expected to take place in China in the coming years, the world’s 3rd largest smartphone vendor is increasingly looking westwards to grow its brand and engage a new consumer base.


Therabody Sponsors China’s National Basketball Teams The deal with the Chinese Basketball Association will see the fitness technology company supply its therapeutic products and services to the China national basketball team and 3x3 basketball team. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Eco Sports (Chinese)


China’s Asian Games Moved to 2023 Originally scheduled for September this year, the Games will now be held from September 23 to October 8, 2023. The Asian Games were postponed in May due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in and around the host city of Hangzhou in China. The quadrennial event was scheduled to be held from September 10 to 25, 2022. Read more on The Olympics (English) and Eco Sports (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: Hosting the Asian Games is hugely important for China and its plan to become a sporting powerhouse, yet the country’s zero-covid policy continues to hamper this plan, with the rest of 2022 pretty much a sport-free year. 2023 is set to be a pivotal rebound year for the country’s offline events industry, fingers crossed for a big rebound. CBA Suing Bilibili for $60M in Copyright Spat The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) is suing video-sharing platform Bilibili for $60M in a potentially landmark copyright infringement case in China. The CBA alleges that Bilibili hosted hundreds of unauthorised videos of CBA League live matches and highlights from the 2019-20 season. Bilibili was not a CBA rights-holder that season. Read more on Pandaily (English) and Sports Money (Chinese) Manchester United Launches on Bilibili, Brings Summer Tour to Chinese Fans Following the launch, Bilibili exclusively streamed all six of United’s pre-season tour games to fans in China. The club will distribute various localised content on Bilibili, including subtitled Club-made content, as well as working with content creators on new content and campaigns. Read more on Eco Sports (Chinese) Kuaishou Bags E-1 Football Championships Rights The popular Chinese video-sharing platform will provide live coverage of each match from the championships, which feature separate men’s and women’s tournaments, along with highlight clips. It will also allow its users to create content with the footage. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Eco Sports (Chinese) Grasshopper Club Zurich has announced a sponsorship agreement with Seagull The deal sees Seagull become a strategic partner of the Swiss Super League club for the 2022-23 season. Seagull will receive in-stadium branding and visibility on the club’s social media channels as part of the deal. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Sports Money (Chinese) TaylorMade Golf Named China LPGA Tour’s supplier The prestigious golf company will become the tour’s supplier in the 2022 season and supply the only designated practice ball. Read more on Eco Sports (Chinese)


🎮 Esports China Reports $11.3B Esports Revenue for 2022 The Chinese esports industry generated revenue of $11.3B between January and June this year, a decrease of 10.12% year-over-year compared to H1 2021. This comes from a report from the China Audio-visual and Digital Publishing Association (CADPA). Read more on SBJ (English) and Sina (Chinese) China in Need of Esports Talents China's competitive gaming industry will lack at least 2M talents over the next three to four years due to accelerating development, according to an executive of Tencent Holdings. There are more esports jobs than just those of players, Hou Miao, deputy general manager of Tencent Interactive Entertainment Group's marketing department, said to Yicai Global. Read more on Yicai (English) and Sina (Chinese) 🤔


Opinion 5 Things You Need To Know About Digital Collectibles In China Young Chinese consumers are increasingly embracing digitization, meaning that any brand interested in tapping their spending power should increase activity on Chinese social media platforms and consider collaborations that include the issuing of digital collectibles. For brands looking to build hype online and tap the spending power of young Chinese consumers, here are five things that brands should keep in mind before launching digital collaborations in China. Read more on Jing Daily (English) China’s Skateboarding Roll Is Just Beginning Skateboarding has quickly moved from the outskirts of Chinese consumer consciousness into mainstream acceptance in recent years. According to Tmall, sales of related items jumped 290 percent between May 31 and June 3 for the 618 shopping festival, while local favourite DBH, known for its colourful skateboard decks, saw sales climb 200 percent between 2021 and 2022. Read more on Jing Daily (English)


🎙️ From The Top 🗣 Zhao Jingyang, Founder & CEO of FansMall 1. Please introduce yourself, and explain the various businesses and services that FansMall provides to collectors in China? I’m a serial entrepreneur. I launched my first startup in college when I was 20 years old, and I haven't looked back since. While I achieved considerable success with my dorm room startup, I wanted something bigger than that. Therefore, after graduation, I decided to go into sports as I’ve always been very passionate about sports and played football growing up. After working with a professional football club, I launched a sports media company and secured partnerships with dozens of China’s top football and basketball clubs. However, just when we were starting to gain traction, the Covid-19 pandemic hit and we were seriously impacted and struggled to survive. That’s when I was introduced to trading cards and was immediately fascinated. After finding success as a trader and breaker, in July 2020, I officially pivoted FansMall as a trading cards platform, and we turned profitable that same year. In less than two years, we have become China’s largest trading card platform, providing a one-stop trading and collecting experience for collectors of all kinds. Up until now, we have branched out into every sector of the industry, including online group card breaking, mystery box, grading, auction, singles retail, and AI-enabled Vault, together with such services as content and industry information service. We have also developed the world’s best price checking service, where you can search the prices of any cards by typing in Chinese, English, and even Chinese nicknames of the players. In addition, we are going to issue trading cards, having signed with some of the world’s biggest sports IPs such as Manchester United, Inter Milan, and the Argentina Men’s Team. A lot more partnerships with top IPs will be announced later this year. 2. What has been the biggest trend that you have noticed in the trading card industry in China, and how has FansMall capitalized on that? The biggest trend is that we have a fast-growing market where a lot of young people are becoming collectors and investors of trading cards. They have a high level of appreciation of international culture, and their appetite and enthusiasm for trendy products have grown exponentially in recent years. And it is not only sports. Toys, anime, comics, entertainment merchandise, and even NFTs are very popular. In the future, we believe that trading cards and sports collectibles are bound to become an industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars. And FansMall is just right at the forefront of this trend – in addition to sports cards, we will also work with culture, entertainment, ACGN, e-sports, and even virtual IPs to manufacture trading cards and provide the best collecting experience for our users. 3. What is the next step for the trading card and collectibles in China, and what is FansMall doing to further the industry? The next step is really just to promote the culture and bring more people into the industry and eliminate the barriers to buying and selling trading cards so that the efficiency and security of transactions are guaranteed. What we are doing at FansMall every day is disrupting and revolutionizing the trading cards. We have a 50-strong tech and product team that’s fully dedicated to developing and improving our products to make them the best collecting experience for users. For instance, presently one of the biggest problems plaguing collectors in China is low security and efficiency in C2C transactions. If you buy a card online, you never know if the picture uploaded by your seller is a real one or one that’s been Photoshopped. And you don’t know if the card you are going to receive is really the one you saw and paid for. And the courier service might cause damage to your card, which could be worth thousands or even millions of dollars. Therefore, C2C transactions have been growing really slow. Users need a trustworthy platform where authenticity and efficiency are guaranteed. Now we are building up the world's first AI-enabled VAULT where FansMall provides a guarantee on the quality of cards using AI technology to verify the quality and authenticity of the cards. Cardholders can send their cards to our Vault and we will develop a digital replica of the cards so that they can use the digital replicas to transact, while the physical cards are safely stored in our Vault. This will greatly improve transaction efficiency and flow speed. Also, we developed the world’s most advanced price checking system. With a simple click or scan of your card, you can find the price instantly, whether it’s sold on eBay or other platforms. And you can search player names in Chinese, English, and even their nicknames. This significantly reduced the barrier for Chinese users since they had to use a VPN to access international websites and multiple price websites to cross-check the prices. We’re about to launch a trading card value index in the near future which will spur the fans to buy and sell cards more frequently.

4. Since you began the business in trading cards, how much has your business grown? In less than two years, we have made many records. We have the largest user base in the industry, completed over 20M transactions, and achieved a total accumulative GMV of 10M. Although we were severely impacted by the pandemic in Shanghai in the first half of the year, we bounced back emphatically from it. As of July 29, our GMV has reached 130M RMB and is projected to reach 200M in August. We are very confident that our total GMV this year will reach 1.5B RMB. 5. FansMall recently announced some licenses and partnerships with sports IPs to manufacture trading cards in China. Can you explain more about what led FansMall to reach those deals, and what we can expect to see in terms of products in China? Yes. We have recently announced partnerships with many of the world's top football clubs and national teams. In addition to the publicized Manchester United, Inter, and Argentina, there will be more announcements in the future. As we all know, the manufacture of sports trading cards is almost monopolized by several leading foreign companies, only a few Chinese companies have cooperated with the world's top IP. For FansMall, these partnerships are an extremely important milestone. Focusing on the creation and distribution of sports collectibles, football card transactions, and services to the vast number of sports fans and collectors, we will constantly build and improve the strategic layout of the trading card industry chain. We will also integrate Chinese traditional culture into the design of the trading cards issued by FansMall. With the help of the trading cards, which is a globally recognized communication medium, we can truly promote Chinese culture to the world.


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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