• Andrew Collins

Chinese Social Media Insight: Serie A and the Premier League

Updated: Jun 7, 2019

Chelsea and Juventus both became champions in their respective domestic leagues last weekend; but how did their success resonate with Chinese fans?

Background

Prior to this weekend’s results, we worked with Netease Sports to ask 2,000 Chinese fans which was their favorite European league. The Premier League received 35.7% of all votes to finish in second place, whilst Serie A received only 5.4% of the votes, finishing behind La Liga and Bundesliga with 45.5% and 13.4% respectively.

Insight: Premier League’s dominance over Serie A was also seen in the Red Card 2015, with six Premier League teams in the top 10. Meanwhile, AC Milan and Juventus were the only two Italian teams in the top 15, occupying 12th and 14th place.

Digital Presence

Chelsea is active on both Sina and Tencent Weibo with over 4 million total followers. Juventus only has a presence on Tencent Weibo, reaching 1.9 million total followers despite having launched one year earlier than Chelsea. Both of the clubs have also launched a Chinese website.

Insight: Italian teams have typically underperformed in the Chinese digital landscape, with both Juventus and AC Milan ignoring Sina Weibo, China’s #1 social platform. In addition, AC Milan recently became the latest Serie A club to stop posting, joining Napoli, Sampdoria and Sienna.

Champions’ Engagement

Chelsea’s total engagement (forwards/comments/likes) on Sunday reached almost 6,500, an average of 145 per post. This compared with only 64 for the previous seven days reveals an increase of 127%. However, Chelsea recorded only the second highest level of average engagement in the Premier League, behind Liverpool with 410. Juventus, active only on Tencent Weibo, recorded a much lower average engagement of 17 on Saturday.

Insight: Engagement on Tencent Weibo has reduced dramatically since Tencent confirmed their shift in focus towards mobile and WeChat. Teams such as Juventus who only have a presence on this platform must now consider opening a Sina Weibo account.


Champions’ Growth

Chelsea grew almost 4,800 followers last week, compared to 1,500 followers gained in the previous week, showing a 220% rise in followers. However, Juventus recorded only 1,800 new followers, which was a drop from the 2,200 followers gained the previous week.

Insight: Juventus’ lower level of growth than the previous week is likely to have been driven by their Champions League aggregate victory over Monaco a fortnight ago, a tournament that is highly valued by the Chinese fans.

Success is a huge factor behind Chinese fans’ decision to follow a team, however, this does not solely drive a club’s popularity online. Juventus won their fourth consecutive Serie A title and have become the #1 Italian team online, but this does not cover up their weak performance against European rivals in the digital space as they fall out of the top 10 clubs online. Chelsea is in a strong position to leverage their recent success and now would be the perfect time for the club to launch their WeChat account.

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