• Denis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 6th August

Updated: Aug 7


Here’s the very latest news and insights from a busy seven days in China.


We’ve also compiled the Top 10 most engaged pieces of Olympics content in China from Week Two of Tokyo 2020.


📰 Headlines: China’s State Council announces five-year fitness plan, LaLiga enters youth product licensing deal, sports companies enjoy a surge in shares, European football clubs launch on Xiaohongshu, Tencent limits users’ screen time while shares drop, and an opinion piece on how the League of Legends impresses internationally.

🗞️ Top Industry News China Announces Five-Year Fitness Goals The country’s State Council issued a circular to accelerate an extensive new five-year mass fitness program that proposes by 2025, the proportion of people who regularly take part in physical exercise will reach 38.5% from 37.2%, whilst the sports industry should see a value of RMB 5T ($773B). Read the announcement in English & Chinese 💡 Mailman Take: Your China strategy should include fitness & health education, both online & offline. Exercise will be an important pillar in how you engage your fans and consumers, whilst acting as a tool to connect with the decision-makers in key local communities and cities. LaLiga Lands China Youth Products Licensing The five-year deal is with Global Dynamic Media (GDM) for licensing rights to produce LaLiga-themed products. GDM will use likenesses and imagery from LaLiga clubs and players to create cartoon doll figures, statues and stationery aimed at young fans. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and ECO Sports (Chinese)


Sports Companies’ Shares Surge Following Fitness Plan & Gaming Hit Shares of sneaker makers and other sports companies jumped as Beijing launched an effort to increase the numbers of fitness trainers and people exercising regularly over the next five years. Read more on AFR (English) and Sina (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: Local sports brands are enjoying a stellar year in China, and it’s only going to get better for them. There will be a rush to purchase sportswear and fitness accessories following the government’s recently-announced fitness plan. And in an Olympics year, patriotism is as high as ever. European Football Giants Launch on Xiaohongshu Both FC Barcelona and Juventus launched official accounts on the popular lifestyle platform aimed predominantly at females and millennials, with a focus on content & commerce. Read more on FC Barcelona (English & Chinese) and Juventus (English & Chinese)

MLB CUP OPEN Spring Finals Kick-off

The 2021 MLB CUP OPEN Spring Season Finals were held in Qingdao, where 200 youth baseball players competed in the under-10 championship. A total of 500k people watched the finals online. Read more on Xinhua (Chinese)

Tencent Cracks Down on Screen Time Honor of Kings, China's most popular mobile game and internationally known as Arena of Valor, has issued new restrictions to self-govern their platform. Players under 12 are now limited to 60 minutes of gameplay per day and cannot log in after 9pm. Under 16s are also limited in the amount that can be spent on in-game purchases with a maximum of RMB 400 ($62) per month. Read more on CNN (English) and Sina (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: Given the recent crackdown on gaming, these new restrictions feel like a precursor to potentially harsher regulations made by the Chinese government. Gaming still remains a high growth area in China. Hong Kong Sevens Cancelled The Hong Kong Rugby Union has cancelled its flagship rugby sevens tournament for the second year in a row due to the ongoing complications of COVID-19 and subsequent global travel restrictions. Organisers announced on Wednesday that the event, first scheduled for April this year before being postponed to November 5-7, will now return in April 2022. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and HKET (Chinese)

🏅 Olympics Special: Week 2 We take a look at the Top 10 most engaged pieces of Olympics content in China from week two:

  1. Tom Daley wins his first Olympic gold medal: Eng. 141K

  2. Ethiopia clinch their first athletics gold medal: Eng. 112K

  3. Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan advance in the women’s badminton doubles: Eng. 85K

  4. Ma Long qualifies for the men’s table tennis finals: Eng. 62K

  5. Ma Long wins the men’s table tennis gold: Eng. 59K

  6. Result announcement for Men’s Gymnastics: Eng. 53K

  7. Weightlifter Lu Xiaojun introduction: Eng. 48K

  8. “Which Shi Zhiyong?” entertaining poll for weightlifting preheat: Eng. 48K

  9. Badminton top seed Momota eliminated in the first round in men’s badminton: Eng. 34K

  10. China Women’s 3x3 basketball team wins historical bronze in Olympic debut: Eng. 33K

🎮 Esports Riot Games to Open New Studio in China The company said that the new team will focus on developing new IPs, while the new office will also be expanding its existing IP globally. Riot Game’s mobile titles have generated over $100M in player revenue to date. Read more on Games Industry (English) and NetEase (Chinese)

JD.com Announces Gaming Ambitions

The ecommerce giant’s booth at the recent China Joy event featured the giant version of its dog mascot Joy, where gamers gathered to compete against one another. The display highlighted JD.com’s ambition in the gaming space. The company wants to be the go-to place for young people to buy gaming-related goods and it sees esports and partnerships with device manufacturers as a way to do that. Read more on CNBC (English) and People.cn (Chinese)

🤔 Opinion How the League of Legends Attracts Overseas Fans Whether you follow esports or not, you will have heard about the League of Legends Professional League (LPL). The Chinese league has grown and matured into one of the most popular, globally. Boasting 135K+ followers on Twitter and partnerships with global brands such as Nike and Hyperice, Eddie Chen explores the key reasons behind the LPL’s internationalisation success (English)

🗞️ Other News Tencent Shares Drop 10% Following State Media ‘Opium’ Remarks Shares of Tencent and NetEase plunged after Chinese state media branded online gaming “opium” and likened it to a drug. The article also called for further restrictions on the industry in order to prevent addiction and other negative impacts on children. Read more on CNBC (English) and Sohu (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: A setback for China’s gaming industry, which has faced problems in the past, most notably when consoles were banned for 15 years. Having witnessed a meteoric rise in recent years, China’s gaming giants will need to implement new rules and restrictions quickly, in order to alleviate the worries of parents following state media’s ‘opium’ remarks.

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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 160/90, an Endeavor company. Learn more about our story here.

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