• Denis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 9th April


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


Making headlines this week: The CFA looks forward to financially healthier 2021, NBA launches basketball school in Haikou, World University Games postponed until 2022, Tencent bets billions on gamers, Tencent Video eyes 50% subscription price hike, and which Chinese video-sharing site is right for your brand?


Top Industry News


1. CFA Eyeing Financially Healthier Future The Chinese Football Association (CFA) revealed details of this season’s Chinese Super League and urged the country’s clubs to move on from years of financial problems. In a statement on the CFA’s website regarding the new season, president Chen Xuyuan stated: “The big ship of professional football is moving forward and we may encounter some reefs and storms… I hope that everyone will work together, share honour and disgrace, and reach victory.” The CFA has introduced reforms in recent years aimed at making clubs more financially stable, following years of overspending during a boom in the football industry. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Beijing Daily (Chinese) 2. NBA Launches Basketball School in Haikou The National Basketball Association (NBA) has officially launched the ‘NBA Basketball School - Mission Hills Haikou’ in China - the first NBA basketball training center established by NBA China and Mission Hills Group. The school also features the NBA Interactive Experience Center and NBA Store which opened two years ago, and is equipped with six indoor courts as well as high-class facilities. Read more on Ecosports (Chinese) Mailman Take: The most powerful way for western sports organisations to strengthen relationships with China is to invest in youth development projects and communities, from the bottom up. The NBA pioneered this space and continues to do so. In 2019 alone, Jr. NBA organised the Jr. NBA league which involved 279 schools from the mainland. Jr. NBA also helped to give training for the PE teachers from over 4000 schools in China.


3. World University Games in Chengdu Postponed Until 2022

This year’s World University Games, which were due to be hosted in Chengdu in August, have been postponed until next year. The International University Sports Federation (FISU) Chengdu was set to welcome more than 8,000 athletes for the August 18 opening, with a new terminal completed at the city’s airport last month. There is no new date for the event. Read more on SCMP (English) and CCTV.com (Chinese) 4. WTT’s China Hub to be Staged After Tokyo Olympics

World Table Tennis (WTT) has announced plans for a “China Hub” to take place after the Tokyo Olympic Games. The new event is part of a series of WTT competitions to be held in the second half of 2021, alongside the Grand Smashes and the ITTF World Championships around the globe. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Titan (Chinese)


5. Manchester City Partners with Unilumin Sports

Unilumin Sports has become the official ‘LED display partner’ of Premier League club Manchester City, and will work with the club, as well as sports industry experts, scholars and entrepreneurs to explore the application of LED displays and lighting technology in the sports industry. Read more on Sina Sports (Chinese)


6. United States Not Considering Boycott of 2022 Beijing Olympics The State Department denied that it was consulting with allies about a joint boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics amid growing calls for the U.S. to back out of the event due to human rights violations in China. "Our position on the 2022 Olympics has not changed. We have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners," a State Department official said. Read more on Politico (English) and Global Times (Chinese) 7. Infront Adds China to ISU international deal The agency has extended its international media rights deal with the International Skating Union (ISU) for four more seasons, as well as adding rights in China. The new deal, from 2023/4 to 2026/7, is for rights in all global territories excluding Canada, Japan, Korea, and the US. It covers rights to all ISU events across all tiers and championships including: the annual World, Four Continents and European Championships in Speed Skating, Short Track Speed Skating, Figure Skating, and the World Synchronized Skating Championships. Read more on SportBusiness (English) 8. UFC Partners with CLB CLB and UFC announced a partnership that will feature CLB branding in the Octagon during the upcoming UFC 261, event featuring UFC World Strawweight Champion Zhang Weili's second title defense against #1 contender Rose Namajunas. CLB will become UFC’s first-ever “Official Contact Lens Partner” in China. Read more on UFC (Chinese) 9. Virat Kohli Agrees to Vivo Endorsement Deal The Indian cricket icon has added smartphone manufacturer Vivo to his growing endorsement portfolio. As a Vivo brand ambassador, Kohli will spread awareness and promote the launch of the Chinese company’s upcoming products. The deal strengthens Vivo’s ties to cricket in India, where the company is returning as the title sponsor of this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 tournament. Read more on SportsPro (English)


Esports 12K+ Internet Cafes Closed Down Since 2020 Over 3.6K of the internet cafes were deactivated by the government, and 9.25K were closed voluntarily. China still has more than 120K internet cafes operating in the country. There were two reasons for the closures: the negative economic impact of COVID-19 and the rise of mobile esports and esports viewing habits in society. With esports and mobile games becoming more mainstream in entertainment, industries like property management have shown interest in adding esports elements to their businesses. Read more on Esports Observer (English) and Sohu (Chinese) Tencent Bets Billions on Gamers The Chinese internet giant has professional gaming at the centre of its plans to dominate areas such as mobile games, video streaming and social media. Key to achieving this vision is Tencent’s League of Legends title, as well as TJ Sports, the JV it set up in 2019 to organise and promote the game’s competitive play in China. Total revenue in TJ Sports’ first two years surpassed US$152M, with plans to create original content such as reality shows and livestream channels around its star players and teams, as well as sell merchandise. Read more on Bloomberg (English)

Other News


Genesis Breaks Guinness World Record with Drone Display in Shanghai Hyundai’s luxury vehicle brand Genesis used 3,281 drones to create its logo over Shanghai’s skyline on March 29 in celebration of the brand’s arrival in China. Total number of drones sets a new Guinness World Record for “The Most Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) airborne simultaneously.” Read more on The Verge (English) and Huanqiu.com (Chinese) Tencent Video Eyes up to 50% Subscription Price Hike on April 10 Tencent Holdings' video-streaming platform will increase its subscription prices by half at most on April 10 to enhance its balance sheet after rival iQiyi boosted its prices less than six months ago. Tencent Video will raise its VIP membership fees between 17 percent and 50 percent, the Shenzhen-based firm recently said in a statement. The annual fee should rise to CNY253 from CNY198 (up to USD39). Read more on Yicai (English) and CNR News (Chinese) Opinion Which Chinese Video-Sharing Site Is Right For Your Brand? Douyin, Kuaishou, and Bilibili are undeniably the top emerging platforms in China today, and it is clear that they all offer considerable opportunities for brands wanting to reach target audiences. However, the three platforms are incredibly different in many ways, especially in this fast-changing post-pandemic environment. Jing Daily took a deep dive into the differences between these three platforms, so you can pick the one that best suits your brand. Read more on Jing Daily (English) --

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