• Andrew Collins

Club TV Partnerships Online In China

Updated: Jun 4, 2019

As European club’s seek a return on their investment in China, many teams are looking to monetise their digital presence in China. This trend has been intensified as major Chinese sports networks are competing for broadcasting rights and official partnerships. Broadcasting deals have been a major focus of these sports networks over the last two years, with unprecedented fees being paid to secure exclusive rights. However, Club TV partnerships provide an alternative content deal that is typically cheaper with huge benefits for both parties.

Sam Li, Head of Content Acquisition and Strategic Partnerships at Sina Sports, felt that these new Club TV partnerships were due to a difference in fans’ online behaviour, “In reality, most fans spend the majority of their time consuming non-live game content and only a small portion of their time watching live games. Our strategy is to work with individual football clubs to license as well as co-produce interesting and relevant content.”.


Over the last 12 months, we have seen Club TV partnerships become an increasingly popular model, with Liverpool FC becoming the first club to announce a major video content partnership with PPTV. Following this Manchester United and Ajax both signed partnerships with Sina Sports and LeTV respectively. In early 2016, AC Milan and Inter Milan both also partnered with LeTV to bring their official TV channels to China.

These value and scope of these partnership deals vary according to each club; Manchester United’s deal with Sina Sports saw the launch of the MUTV channel in China with 24/7 coverage. Liverpool FC’s latest deal with PPTV includes the International Programming Block and the rights to produce limited edition club branded TVs. Meanwhile, LeTV signed a three-year partnership with Ajax to become their exclusive media partner and establish a football academy in China. 

The benefits of these partnerships are clear for both parties. Sports media networks build their football communities with exclusive content on their platform and gain credibility from their official designation with Europe’s elite football teams. In a period where summer tours to China are growing increasingly regular amongst the major teams, the networks will also benefit from a direct line of communication with the club for any potential China activation. Sina Sports and LeTV will have been delighted when Manchester United and Ajax both announced their China tours this summer, with the potential to create on-the-ground content exclusively for their fans. 


Meanwhile, the Clubs not only benefit from the revenue from the deal. But they are also able to leverage the partnership with the media networks and their huge audiences to promote their own brands. These portals have a far larger reach than official club platforms, enabling the teams to deliver content on a regular basis to sports fans and potential commercial partners.

With the number of European teams online in China continuing to grow, and media networks developing new digital strategies to attract the online football community, we expect to see even more Club TV partnerships and original programming from over the next 12 months. David Hornby, Mailman Sports Director, believes that “It’s clear that official club content deals are becoming an increasingly popular investment for Chinese sports media networks with 5 teams already completing lucrative China video partnerships in the past 6 months. However the real opportunity will be in the local production of club TV content specifically for the Chinese market rather than simply pushing out the standard international programming.”


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