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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 9th July

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

📰 Headlines: Endeavor China acquires Mailman Group, Zhou Guanyu makes F1 debut, Suning sells ecommerce stake, NBA and Tencent Music collaborate, China eyes record Olympics attendance, Tencent applies Midnight Patrol, Didi removed from Chinese stores as shares fall 20%.

🗣️ In this week’s From The Top, Zhou Guanyu, Chinese racing driver, spoke to us about his F1 debut, career path, F1’s popularity in China, his own impact in his home country, and handling expectations.


🗞️ Top Industry News

Endeavor China Acquires Mailman Group The move signals the company’s continued commitment to servicing clients in China, Asia-Pacific, and beyond. Mailman will collaborate closely with Endeavor’s full-service cultural marketing agency, 160over90, while Seven League will be integrated fully into IMG’s Media & Events division. Read more on Mailman (English) and Ecosports (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: As we now enter a new phase of our global strategy, we are thrilled to join Endeavor China and build a business that helps our clients realise more growth, more revenue, and more success across their most important markets.

Zhou Guanyu Enjoys F1 Debut Zhou has become China’s second driver to appear in an official F1 session, and is enjoying a stellar 2021 so far, having taken two victories to lead the F2 championship by five points. Read more on F1 (English) and Sina (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: Far too early to compare with local sporting greats Yao Ming and Li Na. That said, the 22-year-old has certainly increased interest in F1 on the mainland, while a permanent F1 seat in the coming years would elevate both Zhou and the sport to new heights. Jiayou, Zhou! NBA China and Tencent Music Entertainment Partner on Audio The sponsorship deal will see the two organisations collaborate on the creation of audio and music content. TME’s QQ Music platform, a joint venture with Spotify, will carry a series of official NBA podcasts. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Jiemian (Chinese) China Looking to Break Attendance Record at Tokyo Olympics More than 400 athletes are set to attend, which could potentially set a new record for the country. China has already secured 318 spots in 224 events for 30 disciplines, while at Rio 2016, China sent a record 416 athletes in 26 disciplines to 210 events - its biggest for an overseas Olympic Games. Read more on Reuters (English) and Sina (Chinese) Silver Expects Stable Relationship with China NBA commissioner Adam Silver stated relations with China will remain stable against a backdrop of political tension between the two countries, adding he expects NBA games to continue to be shown in China and play a key role in cultural understanding between the American and Chinese people. Read more on France24 (English) and (Chinese)


🎮 Esports Tencent Applies Facial Verification to Track Youth Gamers

The system, titled ‘Midnight Patrol’, is to help detect youth who spend long periods of time gaming after midnight. The intention of the system is to stop all tricks devised by children posing as adults between 10 PM and 8 AM. Tencent also stated anyone who fails to comply with the facial recognition app will be kicked offline from the game. Read more on Sixth Tone (English) and Jiemian (Chinese)

Opinion First Chinese Esports Graduates Eye Promising Future Emerging this summer, data shows the future is bright as hundreds of thousands of esport-related jobs have come available. Around 30 Chinese universities have kicked off their esports major courses to meet the needs of the rise of related industries in the Chinese market. Read more on Global Times (English) and CCTV (Chinese)

💡 Mailman Take: Getting into the Chinese education system is no easy task, but China is very serious about esports. Applications for these courses are through the roof, with the Government-backed industry going from strength to strength. Holding a diploma in esports will be a sure-fire route to employment on the mainland.


🗞️ Other News Didi Removed from China App Store, Shares Fall 20% China's biggest ride-hailing company will be heavily impacted after its app was removed from Chinese stores. China's internet regulator ordered app stores to stop offering Didi's app due to illegally collecting users' personal data. It comes just days after the tech giant began selling shares on the New York Stock Exchange. Read more on BBC (English), Financial Times (English) and (Chinese)

💡 Mailman Take: Another giant takes a hit as Beijing continues its clampdown on China’s leading companies. Coming just days after its IPO, Didi will be hoping for a quick return to stores, as its ride hailing rivals will be ramping up marketing to steal a march. Suning Sells Ecommerce Stake A consortium of Chinese investors which includes Alibaba, Xiaomi, Haier, Midea and TCL, are to acquire a 17% stake in the online arm of Suning. Recent Suning financials show net losses of $495M for the online retail business. Read more SportBusiness (English) and Ifeng (Chinese)

💡 Mailman Take: A bailout for Suning, for now. Alibaba has deepened its stake, while China’s mega brands enter the arena to claim their share.


📢 From The Top

🗣️ Zhou Guanyu, Chinese racing driver 1. How does it feel to be lined up to step into Formula One?

It's a fantastic feeling to know that there are opportunities for a young driver like me to step into a F1 racing car, and to be given the chance to drive for FP1 in my younger idol`s car, it is something I never even dreamt about.

And especially in the past, there haven't been a lot of Chinese drivers, I think I'm only the third driver ever from China who has a chance to drive FP1. It gave me a special feeling and I think I proved that I have the speed and also the driving skills to compete in F1.

2. How did you get into racing and what's your ultimate career dream?

The reason I got into racing is because I love speed, I love cars, I love the noise of the engines, I love competitions. As a kid, I always dreamt about being a F1 driver, so I'm really looking forward to maybe one day reaching that dream to be a Formula One driver to race in a grand prix weekend.

3. How do you see the popularity of Formula One currently in China?

More and more people are developing a strong knowledge in this sport now. Especially in recent years, the number of people who have started to show an interest in motorsports is growing which is a good sign. So I am really looking forward to, hopefully, one day racing in front of my home crowd in Shanghai.

4. What impact do you think yourself competing in a Formula One car will have on the sport in China?

A huge impact I think. As for almost every sport, you have to have that first person to compete in it and then there will be a lot of people watching it. Although there may only be relatively few people who are really interested in the sport, when someone from your country has made some new progress and is doing well in that sport, you can have fans outside motorsport paying attention too.

As we saw in the past, one of the most fantastic players in the NBA was Yao Ming, and he had that effect with basketball in China. For now, I'm trying to reach my dream and also trying to help build up the impact of motorsport in China.

5. F1 fans in China have high expectations around your career. How do you handle the pressure?

I think I can always cope pretty well under the pressure, it's even a boost sometimes. I have always had people keep an eye on me since 2015 in my Formula 4 days, because back then I had already started to join the F1 team academy. From that time onwards, there were always a lot of people saying all sorts of stuff about me, but no matter the voices are positive or negative, it gives me motivation to keep improving and keep pushing myself to become a better version of myself.

Now I am gradually proving that I have the speed, I have the skills to be the best driver in China and have the ability to compete against the top drivers in the world, and these are the things I will carry on throughout my career.


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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. Learn more about our story here.


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