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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 29th November

It’s the FINAL DAY to submit for the Red Card 2020: China Digital Football Awards. Find out more about the awards and how you can enter in English & Chinese.

In this week’s edition, we look at the CBA’s latest partnership with Sportradar, ANTA analyse Precor sale, Haier denies Man Utd link, Steve Nash & MORE Sports satisfy fan, Winter Triathlon World Cup China-bound, ITTF World Cup in 5G, and much more.

My From the Top interview is with Wang Dong, Executive Vice President, Suning Sports Group. We discuss the importance of the digital product, what PP Sports is doing outside the 90 minutes of football, biggest challenges in the current OTT market, and the company’s next 3-year strategy.

Top Industry Stories:

1) Haier Denies Manchester United Sponsorship Reports A number of international news publications were producing headlines that Chinese home appliances and consumer electronics group Haier, was edging closer to a £70m-a-year shirt sponsorship with the English club. Haier was quick to shut down the rumours by posting a statement on its social accounts labeling the rumours as false. Read more on SportsPro (English) and Sina (Chinese) Mailman Take: Not the most unbelievable rumour to surface regarding a Chinese company and international sports brand. Manchester United’s main shirt sponsor (Chevrolet) contract ends in 2021, and Haier has history sponsoring global sports properties. Despite Haier dismissing the rumour, it won’t do their brand any harm being linked with one of the world’s biggest football clubs. This will be one to keep an eye on.

2) ANTA Mulling Precor Sale Anta Sports Products Ltd. is considering a sale of its fitness equipment brand Precor Inc. after receiving approaches from potential buyers. The biggest sportswear maker in China is working with an adviser for a potential sale of the US business worth reportedly $500m. Read more on Yahoo Finance (English) and Sina (Chinese)

3) CBA Signs Multi-year Integrity Deal with Sportradar The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), the sport’s top league in China, partnered with sports data, media and betting services company Sportradar. The CBA will use Sportradar’s Fraud Detection System to oversee betting activity on matches and identify suspicious betting patterns. Sportradar’s Intelligence and Investigation services will be added to the CBA’s existing integrity programme. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Sportsdata (Chinese)

4) ITTF Men’s World Cup Set for 5G Coverage Digital media platform China Sports Zhibo and Chinese state-owned telecoms group China Unicom will together produce mobile video streams enhanced by 5G technology for the 2019 International Tennis Federation (ITTF) Men’s World Cup. A mobile content channel called the ‘Ping Pong World Cup Zone’ will be launched for the event taking place from November 29 to December 1 in Chengdu. The content will be produced by China Sports Zhibo’s OTT platform, Zhibo TV. China Unicom will distribute it on its new 5G content platform. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Chinanews (Chinese)

Mailman Take: Mobile dominates in China. 5G coverage will only encourage more fans to watch their favourite sports on their phones. It will be interesting to see which digital platforms best utilise this high-speed network and ultimately draw in and keep more consumers.

5) China Set for Inaugural Winter Triathlon World Cup The International Triathlon Union (ITU) awarded Harbin hosting rights for the first-ever Winter Triathlon World Cup. The event will be organised by a local Chinese federation and will offer travel subsidies for two athletes and one coach from 10 countries around the world. The World Cup is set to take place next January. Read more on (English) and ChinaDaily (Chinese)

6) Steve Nash & MORE Sports Delight Super Fan Chinese sports lifestyle media platform MORE Sports delighted a hardcore fan by presenting him with a signed Steve Nash jersey. The fan took to social media that a signed Nash jersey he purchased on MORE Sports’ In-App store was inauthentic. Nash heard and worked with MORE Sports to ensure the fan wasn’t disappointed. Nash took a jersey off his back, signed it, filmed a private message, and couriered the jersey to China. The MORE camera crew turned up at the fan’s home and filmed him opening the gift and watching Nash’s personal greeting. Read more on Ecosports (Chinese) and watch the video on Weibo

Mailman Take: Despite officially-verified platforms and online stores that are trusted to provide authentication, verifying memorabilia is a contentious business. What better way to demonstrate the authenticity of an item than creating an exclusive video surprise directly from the NBA legend himself, Steve Nash. What a delight. _______

From the Top

1. As a judge of the Red Card 2020, what will you be looking for in submissions to impress you? As a football fan myself, I’m looking for submissions that have been made with pride and heart. They don’t need to be overly complex, maybe just a sentence or a picture, but they must be in line with what the fans love.

2. PP Sports holds the rights to the biggest football competitions in China and Europe. How important is it to ensure the product produced of high quality? Content is the foundation of success on digital platforms and only by putting in the effort can one produce good content. The reason why PP Sports has become the most influential football content platform does not only lie in the broadcasting rights of more than 50 sports events and over 1,000 live streams a year but also rests in the content that is produced from broadcasts and live streams.

In the first year of our cooperation with the English Premier League, we announced the 24/7 programme (EPL TV), as well as International Matchday programmes, which suits the tastes of die-hard football fans. Meanwhile, we have a full squad of renowned commentators, such as Zhan Jun, Zhang Lu, Dong Lu, Lou Yichen and He Yu.

Regarding general football fans, we have another tactic. We invite entertainment celebrities to commentate in forms of crossover, and also have our popular female anchors Liu Chang and Cao Jingrui host programmes, in order to attract a broader scale of football fans.

We have also concentrated our efforts on hardware and technology. This season, PP Sports implemented technologies such as 50-frame Ultra-clear Original Image Technology, Multi-angle Replay, 5G and so on. Some of the key indicators are approaching the standards of Sky Sports and the BBC in the UK. We think efficient content strategies and advanced hardware facilities have been key to our success.

3. What is PP Sports doing outside the 90 minutes of football to create entertaining content? In addition to providing live football content, we are committed to promoting the popularisation and development of football culture and breaking the traditional boundaries between sport and entertainment, so that more people would pay attention to and participate in this sport.

In 2018, we made the first football commentary reality show, Football Commentary Conference, and presented an array of young commentators. For the Catalonia Derby in March this year, we invited famous actor Su Qing, to visit Wu Lei in Spain. Furthermore, we launched crossover initiatives for major football events such as the UEFA Champions League final, and Milan Derby

Because these entertaining initiatives meet the demands of our wider football fans, our programmes can earn affection from the audience, and more celebrities will join our squad to facilitate football culture development.

4. What are the biggest challenges in the current OTT market in China? As a form of digital media, OTT has achieved relatively rapid growth in recent years. However, during the development of the OTT industry, problems have been encountered. For example, the market for advertising is not standardised enough, and there is still room for improvement in audience targeting and effective monitoring.

Compared with traditional media, PC, and mobile media, OTT needs to be further improved to provide content suitable for the attributes of the platform. In this regard, PP Sports has also made some attempts this year to launch the first 24x7 Premier League channel in China, these types of content are what OTT users request.

5. What's the next 3-year strategy for PP Sports in terms of media rights and content? From 2015, Suning has focussed on club operations + sports media + youth training + sports commerce + sports real estate. In sports media, after years of investment and operation, PP Sports has gradually grown into the most influential digital football platform in the country.

Suning's investment in sports is not limited to the value of the sports industry itself but hopes to make sports an integral part of the entire Suning ecosystem. wIn April last year, PP Sports completed its series A financing and plans to complete an IPO within the next 2-3 years.

In Other News

Alibaba Shares Surge in 2019’s Largest Listing Shares of Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba saw a strong debut in Hong Kong, after pricing its shares at approx. $22.5 apiece, becoming the world’s largest listing so far this year. Ahead of the anticipated listing, one investor said Alibaba’s move to launch its secondary listing in Hong Kong is “very, very positive.” Read more on CNBC (English))

VidCon Asia Summit The must-attend conference for media, creative, marketing, advertising and production pros who want to capture the opportunities in Asia's innovative and ever-expanding online video ecosystem. Read more on VidCon and check out the full agenda (English)


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Mailman is a global sports digital agency and consultancy. We help global rights holders, athletes and brands build a successful business across China, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Learn more about our story here

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