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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 3rd December

📰 Headlines: WTA suspends China tournaments, KAWO delivers social media bible, F1 confident of second China race, CSL set for return, Sevilla launches studio show, China bullish on Winter Olympics, EASL announces funding round, Weibo eyes IPO. 🗣 In this week’s From The Top, Alex Duncan, Co-founder of KAWO, spoke about the biggest changes compared to last year’s annual KAWO report, best new emerging platforms, live commerce monetisation, and the burgeoning creator economy.


🗞️ Top Industry News WTA Suspends China Tournaments The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) will immediately suspend all tournaments in China due to concerns about the well-being of Peng Shuai, the former Chinese doubles world number one. The WTA previously signed a 10-year deal to host its showpiece event in Shenzhen, China, including tournament prize money of $14M annually. Read more on Reuters (English)

KAWO Delivers Exceptional Ultimate China Social Media Bible The team at KAWO has spent six months writing this guide to China Social Media in 2022, including 323 references, 18 expert interviews & 112 pages. That’s right, 112. This is the most comprehensive and insightful look at China’s ever-evolving social media landscape. Read the report here (English)

F1’s Realistic Second China Race A second annual Formula 1 grand prix in China is ‘100 percent’ realistic according to F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali. The Chinese Grand Prix launched in 2004 in Shanghai, and recently extended its agreement until 2025, despite no race confirmed for next season. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Lanxiong Sports (Chinese) 💡Mailman Take: As realistic as a second race may be in China, strict covid regulations and an already-confirmed cancellation of the Chinese Grand Prix next season means that it will be 2023 at the earliest, but even that is a push. Whether it’s Beijing, Guangzhou, or Shenzhen - this will take time to gain tough regulatory approval. CSL Set for Return After Four Months The Chinese Super League (CSL) will finally resume on December 12, ending a four-month hiatus that was implemented to open up China's participation in World Cup qualifying. Read more on Reuters (English) and (Chinese) Sevilla FC Launches New #NeverSurrender Studio Show Series The studio show is localised from their global marketing messaging with unique content produced onsite in Seville as well as original production from China. Sevilla FC worked with their global sponsor Valvoline to deliver the show online in China with branded content and special features. The first episode reached 500K total views. Watch the show on Weibo (Chinese)

China Bullish on Winter Olympics Despite New COVID Variants China expects to hold the 2022 Winter Olympics "smoothly" and on schedule, despite challenges posed by the emergence of the new Omicron Coronavirus variant, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian stated. Read more on Reuters (English) and Reference News (Chinese) East Asia Super League Announces $13M Funding Round Asia League Holdings announced a funding round from a group of investors including Baron Davis, Metta Sandiford-Artest, Shane Battier, and investment firm Raine Group to launch the East Asia Super League. The basketball league will include eight teams from China, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines. The funding puts Asia League at a $100M valuation. Read more on Front Office Sports (English) and Xinmin Evening News (Chinese) Guangzhou Aims to Build World Sports City In line with the government’s policy to build a healthier and fitter China, Guangzhou is looking to be at the centre of that push, through building high-class recreation facilities and sports stadiums. Read more on Xinhua (English)


🎮 Esports

G2 Esports Expands Consumer Products to China European esports organisation’s ecommerce products will be available to purchase through Tmall and Taobao, which include the G2 2021 Pro Kit, the G2 Essentials range and G2 x adidas lifestyle products. The announcement follows the organisation’s official Weibo account recently reaching 1M followers. Read more on Esports Insider (English) and Public network (Chinese)


🤔 Opinion

Why Variety Shows Are So Crucial For Douyin

With China’s crackdown on content and celebrities showing no sign of stopping, a content-commerce strategy that Douyin seems to be adopting is hosting more long-form variety shows. Read more on Jing Daily (English)


🗞️ Other news Weibo and NetEase’s Cloud Village Eye Hong Kong IPOs The two Chinese internet companies are set to raise close to US$1B between them in Hong Kong initial public offerings. Weibo is selling 11M shares which could help it raise up to US$547.3M ahead of what would be its secondary listing on Hong Kong’s main board. Read more on SCMP (English) and Securities Times (Chinese)


📢 From The Top 🗣 Alex Duncan, Co-founder of KAWO

1. What were the biggest changes you've noticed based on the findings of your report compared to last year?

OMG, where to start. It was much harder writing the guide this year with so much change in the industry, a lot of it driven by new laws and government crackdowns on specific industries or behaviors they believe are harmful. We set out to offer advice and predictions for 2022 in the guide, but in the end with so much change still taking place we just tried our best to tell the story of China as it stands right now.

2. Which new emerging platform has impressed you the most, and why?

We're excited by Bilibili, although it's a much older platform, it's got such an awesome community and really is the closest thing to YouTube in China. We're even planning to start our own Bilibili channel in 2022.

3. Live commerce has been one of China's fastest growth monetization areas, which platform is leading this race and why?

Douyin is the obvious front runner, but despite livestreaming on Douyin driving a huge amount of sales, a lot of consumers still just watch the streams on Douyin and then go to Taobao to buy the items. Seems that people are so used to the UX on Taobao & Tmall. To be fair to Kuaishou they are providing Douyin with strong competition, but if you look at their share price it is costing them a lot, it is hard to see how this is sustainable.

4. The quality of content is really improving in China. What do you put this down to?

It was really interesting to see such a strong theme around quality content through all of our expert interviews. There seemed to be a notion for a while in China that content was just a commodity that could be bought cheaply, but the channels increasingly incentivise quality content and a lot of teams are struggling to work out how to improve in this area. We're of course hoping they come knocking on KAWO's door ;-)


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Headquartered in Shanghai, China, Mailman is a global sports digital consultancy and agency. We help the world’s leading sports organisations serve their audiences and build their businesses. With over 200 experts across China, Southeast Asia, Europe, and the US, we specialise in digital strategy, transformation, social media, content production and eCommerce. Mailman is part of 160over90, an Endeavor company. Learn more about our story here.

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