China is fast becoming a hot bed for professional sports teams and leagues creating localized websites, catered towards the Chinese fans. The problem is that finding the perfect solution is not all that easy and may often become expensive or worse, ineffective.
There are three common key areas of frustration:
Access is a problem. In addition to major international social networks, such as Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram blocked in China, foreign websites may also be blocked if they contain content deemed insensitive towards China.
Speed is a problem. Unless your website is hosted on local servers in China, the speed you can deliver video, page loading and other site assets can be slow. There’s really no way around it: unless the site is hosted locally, a site, whilst available, may be too slow to render a great customer (or fan) experience.
Content is a problem. Simply having a local Chinese website doesn’t ensure that your content will be consumed as you would expect. Those writing, speaking and commenting on your team or league represent your brand, a brand that’s been built over years of history. Your most loyal fans (most likely to read this new website) will expect expert commentary and professional ‘authoritative’ voices, which can only be delivered through genuine fans. The easiest mistake teams and leagues make are using translation companies or interns to simulate the main site content to the China site – it just doesn’t work. You let your fans down, your brand down, and most importantly, you lose credibility.
All of the above can be addressed through either spending money, or working with credible Chinese media outlets. We’ve identified just a couple of scenarios in which you can take action depending on your circumstances.
Solution 1. Team Owned, Team Managed
The easiest to get off the ground, this option is a straightforward way to get your website started. You simply register a new domain (or use an existing one) and apply for hosting in China using an ICP license (Internet Content Provider License). To apply for the license, you may use your own company or use a service provider’s (like us). You then need to purchase hosting from a local provider, and have a local team manage it. The benefits to this are that you have complete ownership of the site, it’s fast to load and away you go. The Chelsea website is a good example of this.
Solution 2. Team Owned, Media Partnership
For those of you with any major appeal or a well established fan base in China, you can take the option which many sports teams are exploring: partnering with a sports media portal in China. This partnership allows the partner to take on responsibilities for site building, hosting, licenses, video streaming and likely promotional work. You can choose to negotiate for the partner to manage the editorial or have a service provider do it (like us), which we’ve found most useful.
By partnering with a credible media outlet, you give yourself the opportunity to tap into the millions of existing users with that platform. Although establishing your own site, hosted in China delivers the speed, access and content, you are not assured of the eyeballs. If you have clout, you can negotiate an attractive partnership whereby they will play host and drive awareness of your brand.
Examples of this structure include Tencent’s partnership with Arsenal and Barcelona. Sports platforms Hupu, Netease, Sina, LeTV, SuperSports are just a few media partners that have completed similar deals.
It’s a competitive environment for sports media portals, and many are looking for an edge against their rivals. Your partnership, if it delivers exclusive, in demand content and offers, is an attractive sell. One in which you may be rewarded with sponsorship dollars or at a minimum, a friendly partner to help drive your brand forward.
To learn more about these options talk with our team.