Welcome to the latest edition of the China Sports Business Weekly.
Making headlines this week: Nike and Adidas see online sales plunge, Sun Yang made eligible for Tokyo Olympics selection, ice hockey festival breaks record, F1 Esports returns to China, an opinion piece on how gaming is coming of age in Asia, and domestic tourism explodes during May Day holiday.
In this week’s From The Top, we spoke with Pilar Jiménez Gomez, CEO of Mediapro China & Asia Pacific, about reasons for acquiring the international rights for the Chinese Super League, marketing the league internationally, and compensating for a lack of Western talent in the league.
Top Industry News
1. Nike, Adidas Online Sales Plunge in China Following the boycott of international brands in China, sales in the Adidas store on Alibaba’s Tmall - China’s largest ecommerce platform - dropped 78% in April from a year ago, while Nike’s dropped by 59%, according to analysis from Morningstar Inc. Uniqlo, also targeted by the boycott, dropped by more than 20%. Mainland consumers turned to Chinese sportswear companies such as Anta and Li Ning, which have supported using materials from the Xinjiang region. Read more on Bloomberg (English) and Guancha.cn (Chinese)
2. Sun Yang Eligible for Tokyo Olympics Selection The Chinese Swimming Association announced that all gold medallists at the 2019 world championships can participate at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, meaning Sun Yang, who is currently fighting a long-running doping controversy, will be eligible for selection. Sun was suspended by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in February last year after refusing to give samples during a surprise doping test. Switzerland's top court overturned the ban in December, in a surprise decision in which it said the CAS was guilty of bias. Sun will reappear before the tribunal from May 24-28. Read more on Yahoo (English) and The Paper (Chinese) 3. Record-Breaking Ice Hockey Festival Celebrated in May Day Holiday
The first-ever Ice Hockey Open took place across five venues in Beijing, including the famous Cadillac Arena and Ice Star International Ice Sports Center, as part of the five-day competition. This new event set a new record for a mass ice hockey sports event in China, with more than 1000 hockey players from 71 teams across the country participating in a total of 191 games. The final was simultaneously broadcast live on Douyin, Weibo, and other platforms, with a total of 2.2M netizens tuning in. Read more on China Daily (English) and China Daily (Chinese) 4. Adidas Launches Reebok Auction, Expects China Interest Adidas has requested first-round bids to be submitted, expecting China’s media brands Anta Sports and Li Ning to submit offers. Korea’s Fila and U.S.-based Wolverine are also seen as possible bidders. Read more on Reuters (English) and Sports Money (Chinese)
5. “NFL China Fan Draft” Engages & Unites Fans Ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft The National Football League (NFL) creatively energised and excited their Chinese fan base in the build-up to this year’s 2021 NFL Draft with the launch of their “NFL China Fan Draft” campaign. Fans were encouraged to submit stories and examples of why they should be considered their favorite team’s top draft pick, resulting in entertaining content announcing and showcasing the Top 5 picks, which was released on the eve of the 2021 NFL Draft. NFL partner, Panini, even got in on the fun by responding with digital trading cards for each “draft pick” in the same style as what they released for the actual 2021 NFL Draft picks. This year’s 2021 NFL Draft was aired exclusively in China on Tencent Sports. See more on Weibo and WeChat. Mailman Take: A creative way to engage the most avid fans during an otherwise slower time in the offseason while educating casual and new fans on what the NFL Draft is and how it works.
6. Hockey Participation on the Rise Ahead of Beijing 2022
With the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics on the horizon, the country's ice & snow sports industry is growing. More youngsters are picking up sticks, and among the unlikeliest of newcomers to the sport, are students at Shaolin Tagou Martial Arts School in Dengfeng, Henan province. In 2019, around 1,000 students signed up for the school's newly formed hockey club. Ranging in age from 6 to 15 years old, the club encompasses seven squads in total. Read more on China Daily (English) and Xinhua (Chinese)
7. CBA Coverage Expands Overseas
The 2020/21 season of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) League, which recently ended, has been growing its presence overseas. CBA live broadcasts were shown in Israel, Indonesia, the Philippines, and South Korea, among other regions. Read more Sports Money (Chinese)
F1 Esports China Returns The F1 Esports China Championship, the first and only region-specific chapter of the F1 Esports Series, returned to China for a third season at the Shanghai Automobile Exhibition Center. With signings, live performances, presentations and more, the two-day event showcased the very best digital racing talent, and led straight into the first two rounds of competition on May 2: Shanghai and Bahrain. Read more on F1 (English) and The Paper (Chinese)
Opinion How the Gaming and Esports Sector is Coming of Age in Asia After a year that saw gaming thrive, SportsPro spoke to Sportfive’s Adrian Staiti for his views on the state of the esports sector in the APAC region, including sponsorship, media rights, and what the industry could be doing better. Read the Q&A on SportsPro (English)
China Sees 230M Domestic Tourist Trips During May Day holiday This number is up 119.7% from last year, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism Wednesday. The Ministry also reported that tourism revenue reached around US$17.5B, up 138.1% from last year. Read more on Xinhua (English) and People’s Daily (Chinese) Music Festivals Return During May Day Holiday Nearly 20 music festivals were held during the five-day holiday in China, with eight taking place within a single day across a number of cities. Alongside popular events like the Strawberry and Midi music festivals, there was a host of new music festivals introduced. Read more on CGTN (English) and Jiemian (Chinese)
SportsPro APAC - Making an Impression: Taking on Social in China Content owners have looked to China for years for new fans and new commercial partnerships, but as digital media and OTT develop, understanding the distinct patterns of this massive market has never been more crucial. Senior figures from UFC, WTT, and BVB will explore the individually tailored strategies of rights holders working across China, taking place on Wednesday 26th May | 9 – 10 am BST / 4 – 5 pm CST Find out more & register here
From The Top
Pilar Jiménez Gomez, CEO of Mediapro China & Asia Pacific
1. How important is China to Mediapro, and what major steps has the company taken in recent years in the region?
After Orient Hontai Capital joined Mediapro in 2018, the audiovisual group set up its China´s subsidiary to further expand its business in Asia and China. Mediapro China formed a JV with LaLiga and Super Sports Media to market LaLiga commercial rights in China and the surrounding regions. The 15-year JV is set to boost the presence of Spanish football in the region.
2. Why did Mediapro decide to bid for the CSL rights in the first place?
Mediapro believes that CSL is the top professional league in the Asian region. With the long-term commitment with CSL, plus Mediapro’s global sales network, we have the confidence to assist CSL to become one of the most important leagues in Asia.
3. How do you plan to market the league internationally, what do you see as the clear unique selling points?
Mediapro will reach out to our long-term broadcasting partners globally to distribute the CSL rights. Mainly we will put more efforts in Asia-Pacific to have more exposure in the mainstream broadcasters in the region thanks to our Asian office. The Group's experience in sports rights management will be the key to project the expansion of the Chinese Super League.
4. The CSL has lost a large number of western talent and has introduced stringent salary caps on the league. What's your plan for marketing the competition to promote the Chinese aspects of the league and grow the league's brand globally?
Those measures aim at bringing CSL back to a rational competition. From our perspective, we have the intention to bring our world-class broadcasting technology in LaLiga to the CSL with our local partners, such as our AR graphics and transmission technical solutions. We also proposed to the CSL to build its own overseas OTT channel in upcoming seasons to empower the CSL to engage more actively and directly with their global fans.
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