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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 30th August

Here are the top China sports business news stories you need to know from this week. In this edition, my From the Top interview is with Frank Leenders, Director General at FIBA Media & Marketing Services, where we discussed the upcoming FIBA World Cup, the legacy, and what fans can expect to experience throughout the tournament. 

Mailman Launches NBA Red Card 2019 For the third year in a row, Mailman has produced a comprehensive analysis on the digital performance of NBA teams, players, and legends online in China. The NBA Red Card 2019 report measures the digital influence of the NBA teams and players on Chinese social platforms across 6 different metrics. Outside of this, the report also undertakes a content analysis of two NBA teams, comparing their global and Chinese channels to reveal best practices and the key factors for success online in China. Read more on New York Times (English) and Mailman (English)

Mailman Take: The NBA is doing a great job in China to grow the sport from a grassroots level and from within communities across the country. Teams and players are taking back control and establishing an online presence, while the recent sponsorship opening announcement will give teams more autonomy from the league. Congratulations to the winners of this year’s NBA Red Card and to all the stakeholders helping to deliver value to China’s basketball economy. 

Panini America Arrives on Weibo The world’s largest licensed sports and entertainment collectibles company and the exclusive trading card manufacturer has established a presence on China’s leading social platform Weibo. The launch coincided with Kobe Bryant’s birthday, who has served as a global ambassador to Panini since the company entered the U.S. market in 2009. Read more on Sports Money (Chinese) 

MORE Sports Releases The Legend of AJ1 in China MORE announced that UNBANNED: THE LEGEND OF AJ1, the powerful and inspiring documentary detailing the dynamic story of how Michael Jordan’s Air Jordan 1 sneakers transcended sport to become a global phenomenon, was made exclusively available on MORE体育 starting Friday, August 23 at 18:00 until Sunday, September 1st at 23:59. Read more on ecosports (Chinese)

Zhengzhou to Host 2019 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) announced the 2019 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals will be staged in China, with this year’s showpiece event taking place in the city of Zhengzhou between Thursday 12th – Sunday 15th December 2019. Read more on ITTF (English) and ITTF (Chinese)

Anta Sports Posts Record $2.07bn Half-Year Revenue Chinese sportswear company Anta has released its interim results for the first half of 2019, announcing growth of more than 40 percent and a profit margin increase by more than 58 percent in 6 months. The company attributed the high-growth performance to the brand meeting consumer demands and expectations, as well as the company’s investments into product innovation. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Xinhua (Chinese) 

Shanghai Delivers The International The city lived up to its reputation as a global center for esports as the annual International Dota 2 Championships arrived in Asia for the first time. Officially known as The International 2019 (TI9), the six-day event concluded in a sold-out Mercedes-Benz Arena last Sunday. Total prize money exceeded $34m, while Team PSG.LGD claimed third place to finish as the top Chinese squad. Read more on the China Daily (English) and Xinhua (Chinese)

In Other News

Jeremy Lin Signs for Beijing Ducks Former NBA champion and star behind ‘Linsanity’ Jeremy Lin has signed for the Beijing Shougang Ducks ahead of the upcoming Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) season, ending a summer of speculation over the free agent’s next move. The Ducks have been one of the best teams in the CBA over recent years. Meanwhile, former NBA star Stephon Marbury, who led the team to league championships in 2012, 2014 and 2015, has been appointed head coach of the Ducks’ rival team - the Beijing Royal Fighters. Read more on SCMP (English) and Sina (Chinese) 

Mailman Take: After Lin's NBA future became unclear, he has a perfect fall-back option with the CBA. Lin's China strategy and investment into growing his fanbase over the past few years has allowed him to now capitalise -- he is the #1 most popular basketball player in China according to this year's NBA Red Card Report. He'll draw crowds at every CBA arena he goes to and we expect commercial opportunities to follow as well. 

All That Matters to Unite Entertainment & Sports in Asia Sports and entertainment industry conference ‘All That Matters’ will be held in Singapore from September 16th - 18th at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia. All That Matters offers a meeting point in the region for the most influential players in global entertainment. This year’s event will once again consist of 4 main areas: music, sport, gaming and digital marketing. Read more on All That Matters (English)

Mailman Take: I’ve attended this industry event a few times before and is very much worth going to, particularly due to the broad range of industries and sports IPs attending.


From the Top

This week I spoke to Frank Leenders, Director General at FIBA Media & Marketing Services, where we discussed the upcoming FIBA World Cup, the legacy, and what fans can expect to experience throughout the tournament. 

1. Why was China chosen to host this year’s FIBA World Cup and what can the country offer? China won the bid at the end of 2015 in Tokyo and was chosen to host the World Cup after a close bidding process against the Philippines, who also put in a very strong application. Since then, we have been working closely with the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) and organising committee to prepare for the road to the World Cup and the start of what we hope will be a great lasting legacy after the World Cup.

This is a new World Cup, 32 teams represent a tournament bigger than ever, spread across eight cities and eight venues and this will be the first World Cup which follows a global qualification process of home and away games. China was chosen firstly because it’s an amazing country and offers a great platform, and also a World Cup can help strengthen basketball’s position in the country as the number 1 sport. We need to preserve the position of basketball in China.

China has unprecedented scope and resources with eight amazing venues. We did many initiatives such as the ‘100 days to the World Cup’ countdown, we had qualifying games, host city presentations, and the official draw in Shenzhen with Kobe Bryant and Jason Derulo in front of 10,000 fans.

2. What represents success for you and what legacy do you hope to leave in China after the World Cup? Our starting point was always regardless of the results on the court, we already wanted to be an objective success, so whatever happens during the 15 days would be the icing on the cake. We don’t want to be dependent on whether China does well or not, for example.

We want to make a lot of noise and promotion for the sport in the build-up and during the World Cup. We've also developed and set up projects such as an academy with Beijing Enterprise Group and a FIBA academy. We held the FIBA Basketball Summit in Xi’an last year where we brought together all the stakeholders and there will be post-World Cup events so we can continue to inspire the next generation of basketball fans and players.

3. What can fans expect to see throughout the World Cup other than the games? We’ll have a number of fan zones in all eight cities, a lot of activations such as basketball houses to experience the sport, city promotion, and branding, and I want to say a big thanks to our global and domestic partners who have helped us deliver huge exposure on the ground.

The likes of TCL, Ganten, Nike, Tencent and so on, have all given us great exposure. Ganten have integrated the sponsorship in all their marketing and packaging, especially their bottled water, with millions of bottles displaying World Cup branding - they have been great.

4. How has the demand been from fans to attend games? The proof will be in the pudding as we have 92 games, so we’ll have to see how the attendance figures are after the tournament has finished. Team China, Team US, the finals, and so on have sold out very quickly. You have games with the Greek team who have NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo being very popular, the Philippines playing in Foshan has been in high demand - you can clearly see Chinese people understand basketball.


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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.

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