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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 4th September

Welcome to the latest edition of the China Sports Business Weekly.

Here’s what’s been making the headlines this week: the UFC and the Chinese Olympics Committee join forces, the EPL terminates Suning broadcast deal, FIBA signs global deal with TCL, NHL Stanley Cup livestream delights fans, WGC-HSBC cancels Shanghai golf event, India bans 100+ Chinese apps, and SportsPro Asia announces agenda. 

In this week’s From The Top, we spoke with Kevin Chang, SVP of UFC Asia-Pacific, about how this partnership came about, what the UFC will provide to the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC), and the importance of this partnership as the UFC continues to establish itself as a leading global sports organisation in China. 

Top Industry News

1) UFC & COC Join Forces for Athlete Olympics Preparation  The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) announced a multi-year agreement where the UFC will play a key role in helping Chinese athletes train for the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games and 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games. The UFC will serve as the Official High Performance Advisor to the Chinese Olympic Committee through a variety of high performance physical and rehabilitation services to Chinese athletes. Read more on SCMP (English) and CCTV (Chinese)

2) English Premier League Terminates Suning Broadcast Deal Two Years Early The contract with Suning, the Chinese electronics giant and owner of Inter Milan, was worth around £564M over three seasons. This deal was the Premier League’s biggest outside of the UK. Suning reportedly withheld its latest payment of £160M, due in March, and both sides failed to reach a new agreement. Read more on BBC (English) and Lanxiong Sports (Chinese) 3) FIBA Signs Four-Year Sponsorship Deal with TCL The new partnership follows on from an existing relationship between both sides, as TCL was a FIBA global partner in 2018 and 2019, in a deal covering last year’s basketball World Cup in China. TCL gains exclusivity in the home appliances category, while the company will have brand visibility on court and will be the title sponsor for the player of the game award. Read more on FIBA (English) and Tencent (Chinese)

4) NHL Stanley Cup ‘I Love Goals’ Campaign Livestream Hits 1.6M 

Gearing up for the 2nd half of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, the NHL in China launched a livestream to promote its online Stanley Cup campaign "I Love Goals". The stream featured guests from the NHL community talking through different methods of scoring, the current success of the campaign, and exclusive signed jersey giveaways for viewers of the livestream. Watch the show re-run on Weibo (Chinese)

5) China’s WGC-HSBC Champions Golf Event Cancelled The 2020 edition of China’s richest golf tournament has been cancelled due to government restrictions on international sporting events. The $10.25M tournament was scheduled to take place at the Sheshan Golf Club from October 29 to November 1. Read more on Reuters (English) and PGA Tour (Chinese) 6) Huawei Australia Pulls Out of NRL Team Sponsorship The Chinese telco cancelled its major sponsorship deal with the Canberra Raiders, citing financial troubles due to the Federal Government's 5G ban. Huawei Australia has been the Raiders' major sponsor for a decade, and last year signed a new deal due to run until the end of the 2021 season. Read more on ABC (English) and Sina (Chinese) 7) Yao Foundation to Host Charity Game in Wuhan

The charity organisation founded by Yao Ming will host its annual charity basketball game in Wuhan this year. The foundation hopes by hosting such an event that sport can play a role in “reopening Wuhan, rebuilding Wuhan and reviving Wuhan.” The game will invite frontline medical staff who contributed in fighting the coronavirus to form a “Nightingale Team” with sports and entertainment celebrities. Read more on China News (English) and Xinhua (Chinese) 8) Wanda Sports Hit By 75% Revenue Drop COVID-19’s impact on sport has led to a 75% fall in second-quarter revenues at Wanda Sports Group, whose  revenue from continuing operations fell to $62M as its Spectator Sports, Digital, Production and Sports Solutions (DPSS) and Mass Participation units were all badly hit. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Eastmoney (Chinese) In Other News India Bans Over 100 Chinese Apps Following on from the 59 Chinese apps banned by the Indian government, which included TikTok, a further 118 Chinese mobile apps have been banned as tensions between the two countries continue to rise. Those on the list include several of Tencent's products, including the hit video game PUBG Mobile and WeChat Work. Read more on BBC (English) and Sina (Chinese)

ByteDance to Obey China Tech Export Rule Tiktok owner ByteDance said Sunday it will “strictly comply with” a Chinese technology export regulation, which was updated last week to ban the export of limited technologies, potentially including those used by the popular video-sharing app. Read more on TechNode (English) and Tencent (Chinese) Events

SportPro Asia Agenda Announced The event will address the key challenges in sports consumption across APAC, including speakers from the biggest global broadcasters, rights holders. clubs and agencies taking the virtual stage on October 21 - 22. View the agenda here (English)

From The Top

Kevin Chang, SVP of UFC Asia-Pacific 1. How did the cooperation between the UFC & COC come about?

A primary objective for our investment into the Performance Institute Shanghai was to raise the bar on sport in China and Asia. This partnership is part of an ongoing effort to fulfill that mission.

In 2018, we had chosen Innovation Galaxy in Jingan as the ideal site for our facility and were well into planning and design. Since the PI in Las Vegas had already set new standards for high performance training in just 2 years, we drew from our experience of building the original, and knew right away that it would be a one-of-a-kind facility and a tremendous resource for athletes in China and Asia. 

At the same time, we had assembled our performance team in Shanghai, an extension of our world class team in Las Vegas, and were given the opportunity to present our proprietary training philosophy and approach to the division of the COC responsible for S&C. This led to a trial training camp for the Women’s Rowing Team in Las Vegas that produced impressive results.

Word spread to other teams, some of whom also visited the PI for training, and soon we caught the attention of the Sports Minister, whom we were honored to host at the PI Shanghai twice in 2019. Our cooperation is a result of mutual respect and shared desire to push the boundaries of human potential across all sports disciplines.

2. What can the UFC provide to Chinese Olympians to ensure they're best prepared for the upcoming Summer & Winter Olympics?

Much attention is given to the facility (hardware), but it is our world class team and UFC system (software) that sets us apart. Each athlete, whether in team or individual sport, has a customized training program based on a variety of different factors and benchmarks. Pre-training meetings are held on a daily basis to assess things like readiness to train, nutrition and supplementation needs, and progress towards goals. Once an athlete hits the training floor, there is information to collect and analyze. It is this science-based approach that will ensure athletes who train here are best prepared for competition or return from injury.

3. How important is this for UFC as it continues to establish itself as a leading global sports property in China and deliver a platform to improve Chinese athletes & sport?

We are the undisputed champion of combat sports and high-performance training. This partnership with one of the very top Olympic Committees in the world validates that position. The fact that UFC athletes train the same way and at the same facility, and are being benchmarked against Olympians, also highlights how our MMA athletes are elite when compared to their sporting peers.


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