Welcome to the latest edition of the China Sports Business Weekly.
Making headlines this week: MLB announces landmark Tencent Video broadcast partnership across Asia, six Chinese football teams disqualified for the upcoming season, JD.com partners with China’s national swimming team, Chinese football clubs launch mixed ownership reform, Tencent agrees Extreme E broadcast deal, VSPN acquires another company, and Taylor Rapp to donate NFT proceeds to AAPI community.
Top Industry News
1. MLB Announces Three-Year Tencent Video Broadcast Partnership Across Asia The Chinese internet giant announced its first ever major sports rights deal outside of China. The three-year deal for Major League Baseball (MLB) rights covers multiple Asian markets, as well as China, from 2021 to 2023. Coverage outside China will be on Tencent’s international streaming platform WeTV, and will cover Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, and more than 10 other markets. In China, MLB has also agreed a rights deal for the same period with Oriental Pearl Group, which operates IPTV platform BesTV as well as regional cable television channels. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and China Daily (Chinese)
Mailman Take: A strong play from MLB signing deals across digital and traditional platforms in a currently unstable China media sports rights market. Adding another element to the Tencent partnership on WeTV across Asia will be a move all U.S. sports properties will be keeping a close eye on, as both Tencent and MLB continue to grow their brand throughout the continent.
2. Six Chinese Teams Disqualified From Upcoming 2021 Season The Chinese Football Association announced that six clubs, including reigning Chinese Super League champions Jiangsu FC, have been disqualified from professional leagues due to financial difficulties. The other five disqualified clubs include Taizhou Yuanda, Inner Mongolia Zhongyou, and Beijing Renhe who competed in the second-tier China League One last year, as well as two franchises from the third division. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Sohu (Chinese)
3. JD.com Partners with China’s National Swimming Team JD.com has been awarded the title of the ‘official ecommerce platform of the China national swimming team’, gaining media exposure rights, exclusive ecommerce rights, as well as logo presence with the Chinese Swimming Association. Read more on Sports Money (Chinese)
4. Chinese Football Clubs Launch Mixed Ownership Reform
At least five Chinese football clubs have launched mixed ownership reforms, including Henan Jianye, Zhejiang Greentown, and Cangzhou Mighty Lions. The diversification of Chinese football and the reform of mixed ownership are still in the early stages, but marks a positive direction change for the Chinese professional game. Read more on NetEase (Chinese)
5. Tencent Reaches Multi-Year Broadcast Agreement with Extreme E
The all-electric SUV series will be streamed on Tencent's platforms during the 2021 season. All five X Prix will be available in China on Tencent's digital platform QQ.com, as well as on Tencent Sports, Tencent News and Tencent Video. Furthermore, race highlights and magazine shows will be available. Free-to-view behind-the-scenes documentaries including 'How to Build a Race Car', 'The Electric Dream' and 'Climate Changers' will also be broadcast in both Chinese and English on the platforms. Read more on SportsPro (English) and PP Sports (Chinese)
6. Xiao Zhan Becomes Global Ambassador of Li-Ning
Domestic sportswear brand Li-Ning announced the popular boy band X NINE member as its global brand ambassador on the company’s official Weibo account. Xiao Zhan has been one of the most influential Chinese celebrities speaking out in support of Xinjiang cotton. Read more on Jing Daily (English) and Ifeng (Chinese)
Esports VSPN Completes Acquisition of Famulei Chinese esports solutions company VSPN (Versus Programming Network) has acquired Chinese live streaming talent agency Famulei. The agency will operate as an independent brand under VSPN. Based in Shanghai, Famulei operates businesses in live streaming talent management, marketing sponsorship, licensing, and ecommerce operations. Famulei has also partnered with T1 Entertainment & Sports, Team Liquid, and Gen.G Esports Read more on Esports Observer (English) and Sina (Chinese)
Mobil Announced as Official Partner of 2021 LPL Season
Chinese esports company TJ Sports has signed a sponsorship deal with Exxon Mobil Corporation’s machine oil brand Mobil Super for the League of Legends Pro League (LPL). Mobil Super joins the LPL sponsorship list between the regular season and playoffs, becoming the 17th brand on the LPL partnership list, as one of the official partners. Read more on Esports Observer (English) and China Daily (Chinese)
Taylor Rapp to Donate NFT Collection to AAPI Community The Los Angeles Rams star is joining the non-fungible token trend and donating proceeds to help Asian communities. Rapp will launch six digital collections and auction 90 total NFTs, including one that includes tickets to an NFL game and a meet and greet with players. Read more on CNBC (English) and Sohu (Chinese)
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