• Denis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 7th June

Here are the top China sports business news stories you need to know from this week, and my From the Top interview is with Patrick Murphy, CEO, DDMC Fortis, where we discuss DDMC Fortis’ strategy and the recent news regarding China being confirmed as AFC Asian Cup 2023 host.

China Wins AFC Asian Cup 2023 Bid The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Member Associations confirmed China as hosts for the AFC Asian Cup 2023. The unanimous decision marks the second time the competition will be held in China, which also hosted the 13th edition in 2004 when the tournament was expanded to 16 teams for the first time. Read more on AFC (English) and Sina Sports (Chinese)

Mailman Take: This announcement didn’t send too many shockwaves through the industry as China was the sole bidder for the tournament after its only bidding rival South Korea withdrew from the process. This also presents China with an ideal opportunity to show off its football event-staging capabilities ahead of likely bids to stage the FIFA World Cup in the future.  


Hupu Nets Pre-IPO Investment From ByteDance Online sports community Hupu has received a pre-IPO investment of approximately RMB 1.26 billion ($182 million) from Chinese technology company ByteDance. The investment reportedly gives Bytedance a 30% stake in Hupu. Read more on Lanxiong Sports (Chinese) and TechNode (English)


Media Content and Sponsorship Sales Launched by DDMC Fortis DDMC Fortis, the exclusive commercial partner of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), announced the launch of sales processes for media content and sponsorship rights for the AFC’s national team and club competitions for the cycle 2021 to 2024. This will commence in September 2020 with the start of the AFC’s qualification competition for the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar. Read more on Sport Business (English) and Sohu Sports (Chinese)


Mailman Take: Timing is key, and sometimes fortunate. AFC’s announcement for China to host the AFC Asian Cup 2023 couldn’t have come at a better time for DDMC Fortis as they open their sales processes.


BVB & Tongji Sign Partnership Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund signed a partnership with Tongji University to help support the development of youth football in China. Read more on CDGKA (Chinese)


Mailman Take: BVB has a long-term commitment to grassroots in China, and this partnership further cements its plan to improve the level of youth football coaching and development in the country. Judging by the club’s recent signings, youth continues to play a key part in its strategy.


Rangers FC Opens Shanghai Academy Top-flight Scottish team Rangers FC have launched their first Chinese Soccer School in Shanghai. The partnership between the Scottish Premiership club, YCIS and MultiSport will provide weekly coaching sessions and camp events. Read more on Soccerex (English)


In Other News


English Clubs Leverage Digital in China for European Finals Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, and Arsenal all attempted to leverage social media in different ways in the build-up, during and after last week’s European finals. Read more on Mailman (English) and Lanxiong Sports (Chinese)


Soccerex Wraps Up China Event Soccerex concluded its 2-day event at the Mission Hills Haikou Movie Town in Hainan, China. Over 1000 delegates were present across the two days of the event, with 62% of the attendees C-Level or above. There was 61 Speakers, 15 Panels, and 8 Presentations (15+ hours of content). More than 45 countries represented were at the event and 42 companies exhibited. Read more on Soccerex English and Chinese


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From the Top


This week I spoke to Patrick Murphy, CEO, DDMC Fortis, where we discussed DDMC Fortis’ strategy and recent news regarding China being confirmed as AFC Asian Cup 2023 host


1. How important is this for China and its plan to eventually become a ‘soccer superpower’? It is certainly an important milestone and proof of China’s continued commitment to further developing and promoting football across the nation and internationally on and off the pitch. China previously hosted the AFC Asian Cup in 2004, which drew close to one million people to the stadiums – an unmatched record in the competition’s 63-year history to date. Today, national team interest transcends the general football fanbase in China - nearly 60% of Chinese adults are passionate about their national team, estimated at 560 million. We, therefore, expect the AFC Asian Cup 2023 to be another monumental event elevating interest in football and fandom to unprecedented heights while offering Chinese and international brands unique opportunities to engage with Asia’s 1.8 billion national team supporters.


2. What will DDMC Fortis do to ensure this tournament is seen and enjoyed all over the world? We are committed to making Asian football widely accessible for national and international audiences. On an international level, we are going to strike a good balance between traditional and digital exposure when it comes to doing media rights deals. Hence, we will of course be looking to the traditional media companies to acquire our rights, but we are also going to want those traditional media companies to distribute our rights digitally, perhaps in a more elaborate way than has been done in the past or at the moment.


3. This marks a big step in the partnership between the AFC and DDMC Fortis. Does China hosting the Asian Cup 2023 come as a surprise and how do you plan to make most of this opportunity? Having China as the host nation for the Asian Cup 2023 is a huge boost. It was not something that was confirmed at the time of the tender process. Our commercial model was not based on having China as the host for the Asian Cup in 2023. So, it is a tremendous bonus that we were not expecting. The probability of us hitting and exceeding our targets has significantly increased. Coinciding with the announcement, we officially launched our sales process for the first four-year cycle, 2021 to 2024. We are collaborating closely with our China-based sister companies DDMC and Super Sports to fully exploit both broadcast rights and sponsorship rights. A China-hosted Asian Cup, paired with the massive interest in national team competitions across Asia, also means unprecedented opportunities for brands to tap into an incredibly engaged football audience across the continent. Mindful of the diversity in Asia, we have opted for a highly innovative approach, which allows us to tailor our rights packages specifically to our clients’ needs. -- Now you can subscribe to our China Sports Business Weekly brief and have it delivered directly to you, wherever you are. 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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