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© 2020 MAILMAN GROUP

  • Denis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 6th December

Updated: Dec 20, 2019

In this week’s edition, China launches sports industry investment fund, Brand Team China announced, BWF partners with Mailman, BiliBili nets LoL broadcast rights, PICC Group becomes Beijing 2020 10th partner, and much more.

My From the Top interview is with Patrick Stueber, Head of China & Chief Representative China, Bundesliga International. We talked about the importance of the Bundesliga China office, partnership with PP Sports, working closely with the clubs, how to be unique, future strategy, and the importance of innovation.

Top Industry News:

1) China to Launch Sport Industry Investment Fund The General Administration of Sport (GAS) of China will launch a government-backed sport industry investment fund to boost sport-related businesses and brands. Read more on SportsPro (English) and Sina (Chinese) Mailman Take: International sports IP can play a big role here and recognise the importance of community while adding value to China’s sports economy.

2) BWF Focuses on Digital in China with Mailman Partnership The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has partnered with global sports digital agency Mailman to run and oversee the federation’s Chinese social and digital content and communications operations for the next year. Read more on BWF (English) and Ecosports (Chinese) Mailman Take: As the most participated sport in China, we’re looking forward to translating this to China’s digital space with an entirely new story, building greater engagement and establishing badminton with China’s youth.

3) BiliBili Acquires LoL Worlds Broadcast Rights in China Chinese video sharing and online-gaming website Bilibili sealed a three-year deal to exclusively broadcast Riot Games’ annual League of Legends World Championship. BiliBili reportedly fended off competition from rival platforms such as Douyu, Huya and Kuaishou with a bid of $113.1m. Read more on Esports Insider (English) and ifeng (Chinese)


Mailman Take: A hefty price, highlighting eSports is growing in value and broadcasters are sensing it. A change in strategy for live content is likely as OTT platforms struggle to profit from the more mainstream sports IP.

4) TEAM CHINA Brand Announced The Chinese General Administration of Sport (GAS), sports associations, athletes and sponsors announced a new collective brand for all of Chinese national sport named ‘TEAM CHINA’. This new image and title will include the Chinese national teams for various sports as well as when they attend global events. The GAS will control commercial uses of the brand and sponsorship deals for national funding. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and JIEMIAN (Chinese) 5) PICC Group Becomes 10th Beijing 2022 Official Partner The People’s Insurance Company (Group) of China Limited (PICC Group) has become an Official Partner of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. Read more on Beijing 2022 (English) and Ecosports (Chinese)

6) International Cricket Council Extends Global OPPO Sponsorship Deal The new deal will run until the end of 2023, with the smartphone maker retaining its position as the official mobile handset and headset partner of the ICC and all associated events. Read more on ICC (English) _______


From the Top


1. It's been 8 months since Bundesliga opened a China office. How beneficial has this been and what role is it playing across China? First of all, it’s very important for us to be closer to the market - be closer to our main media partner PP Sports who we have a long term five-year relationship with (started 2018/19 season). It’s also important for our clubs to be on the ground. At the moment we have six clubs with offices in China, which is very unique for one market. Being here has allowed us to expand marketing activities with PP Sports and, where possible, with the involvement of our clubs. China is a key market for the Bundesliga and we are already seeing positive developments since we have established our presence here in Beijing.


2. Bundesliga is renowned for working closely with its clubs. Six have established offices in China. How do you work with these clubs and divide your resources evenly?


Whilst every club has its own ambitions, what they all have in common is they follow a long-term strategy that aligns with the sustained growth of the Bundesliga in China. We’re in constant dialogue with all our clubs, not just the clubs with local offices in China. It’s important that we work together as that delivers much stronger results in any activities and projects we are planning. For example, we implemented a Bundesliga booth with our clubs at certain events, such as the last two ISPO exhibitions in Beijing and Shanghai. We also support each other in relation to marketing events, promotional activities and B2B events, whilst joint collaboration between clubs, PP Sports and the Bundesliga are hugely beneficial to all our digital activities. In 2018/19, Bundesliga, Bundesliga 2 clubs and the DFL group had more than 150 activities in China. This is due to the market relevance for many of our clubs, including those who don’t have an on-ground presence in China.


3. As the official digital broadcaster for Bundesliga in China, how is PP Sports working with the league to deliver the best product possible to fans and grow the fanbase?


For us, it all starts with our world-class media product. This is produced by the DFL Group for our international broadcasters thanks to the ownership of our full value chain. Our broadcast content is delivered by our subsidiary Sportscast - the biggest producer of HD football content in the world. Through our glass to glass approach, from the TV cameras in stadiums to TV sets and smart devices across the world, we are continuously enhancing our media product thanks to our continued investment in innovation and new technologies. Throughout the season, PP Sports broadcasts all nine Bundesliga games each matchday. This allows fans to follow their favourite clubs throughout the season. We work with them on a daily basis, discussing different areas and disciplines to fully maximise the potential in this partnership. With their international football operations also based in Beijing, we are working very closely with them, which helps a lot in daily business. To grow the fanbase, PP Sports brings in all of their expertise to reach the younger target group in terms of content they want delivered via the platforms they are using. In the next couple of months, we will be working with PP Sports to further localise our content for Chinese fans.


Our innovation and partnership approach is also integral to our digital strategy as we run and operate our own online Chinese platforms, Weibo, Wechat, Toutiao, Douyin, which are managed by our media house DFL Digital Sports. And when it comes to marketing activities, Bundesliga International works closely with our media partners and our clubs to deliver on-ground activities around the globe, which allow fans to touch, feel and fully experience the Bundesliga through our ‘Football As It’s Meant To Be’ mantra. To name one good example, the Der Klassiker campaign we initiated in November reached over 37 million reads, which was achieved by co-work effort with PP Sports and the clubs FC Bayern and Borussia Dortmund


4. What do you do differently to other top European leagues in order to stand out and be unique?

As mentioned before, the unique set-up of our organisation - everything from a single source, allows us to produce more than 55,000 minutes of content per season, making the Bundesliga the most comprehensive league when it comes to story-telling content delivered 24/7, 365 days a year. Having an in-house content team also allows us to localize our content as much as we want and to produce special content for China.

Bundesliga is always in connection with China. We had our first presence on CCTV over 20 years ago, one of the earliest league to enter China. We have great Chinese players like Yang Chen, Shao Jiayi, who were the first Chinese players playing in European leagues. Shao Jiayi was inducted to the Bundesliga Legend Hall of Fame as one of the first 9 legends.


We also have six clubs with a local presence in China. This is unique - there is no other territory where we have such a situation. There is no other football league which such a set-up - and there will be more to come! Along with more than 150 activities organised by the Bundesliga and our clubs in China last season, this really makes us stand out.


5. What can we expect over the next 3 years in China to continue the league's presence and popularity?

In April 2019, immediately after we established the Bundesliga office in Beijing, we visited PP Sports and the Suning Group together with representatives of eight Bundesliga clubs, for a strategic meeting. This symbolised a milestone within this partnership as we established a comprehensive, long-term plan that we will jointly deliver over several years.


Building on this, we aim to extend our exchange with the governmental and football institutions in China, based on the knowledge-sharing agreement signed in 2016 between both countries. Having the office here in Beijing is a supportive factor in accelerating this exchange.


From a club perspective, I think in the future we can also expect to see more clubs travelling to China with their first teams, youth teams or even women’s teams for friendly games and training camps. They are also eager to progress their existing partnerships with sponsors, and institutions such as universities, football schools, and Chinese clubs.


6. The Bundesliga is innovative. What’s next in regards to innovation?

Yes, there are many innovative topics to mention in this context, just to new a few, Bundesliga is a pioneer when it comes to the goal-line technology which is used since 2015, production in Ultra HD (4k) since 2016, the Video Referee Assistant since 2017 or even hosting the biggest football archive in the world with more than 140,000 hrs. of content.


We are the first league to implement 5G technology, as the infrastructure to a newly developed smartphone APP which enables the spectators to access instant information of the players in real-time, how fast he runs, how many passes he’s done, etc. This was the first case we released about six weeks ago was the Volksparkstadion in Wolfsburg.


Next year, on 25-26 March we will once again host the SportsInnovation 2020 event in Düsseldorf, Germany. This follows a hugely successful first edition in 2018 which took place in 2018 and welcomed tech giants like SAP, IBM, SONY, as well as sports clubs and leagues. There, the latest innovative broadcast and data technologies will be tested in a live setting. As a ramp-up to this event, we hosted the SportsInnnovation Future Summit in Beijing last September. This gave our network in China an exclusive insight into what the future holds in this area, and what to expect next year in Germany. I can promise this will be an exciting event and would encourage anyone interested in sports innovation to come along.


In Other News

Lanxiong Sports Carnival to Unite Industry Leaders The sport business media company will host its annual carnival next week in Beijing. This will mark the 4th time the annual carnival has taken place, bringing together leaders from sports media, agencies, businesses, broadcasters, and digital platforms. Read more on Lanxiong Sports (Chinese) --


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