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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

Red Card 2022: China Digital Performance Index

Updated: Feb 18, 2022

Today is the release of the 11th edition of the Red Card: China Digital Performance Index. The report ranks European football clubs, leagues, and players online in China, whilst providing detailed analysis, insights, and projections regarding China’s fast-evolving digital sports landscape.

Following another year of teams and players unable to visit China due to closed borders and strict COVID-19 protocols, digital was once again the key medium in which to reach, engage, and monetise fans in China.

Download the report here


  1. Most Popular Club Online: FC Barcelona

  2. Most Popular League Online: Premier League

  3. Most Popular Player Online: Cristiano Ronaldo


Barcelona’s Winning Year

  1. Number 1 club for the third year in a row as they became the most followed team across Weibo & Douyin.

  2. Scored maximum points on Weibo across followers and engagement.

  3. Strong performance on Douyin as they maintained their position as the most engaged and most followed.

  4. Launched a new channel on Xiaohongshu, as well as their China membership platform on iQiyi.

We are thrilled to receive this award as it reaffirms the Club’s commitment to millions of Culers in China and recognises the fans’ increasing interest in FC Barcelona over the last three years. Our goal is to create content that represents Barça's unique style and values, whilst also reflecting Chinese culture in an evolving and dynamic digital environment. We will continue to provide innovative ways to bring our fans ever closer to the Camp Nou." - Bryan Bachner, Managing Director of Asia Pacific, FC Barcelona


Premier League’s Winning Year:

  1. Number 1 European football league online in China for the fourth year in a row. Success was driven by record engagement across all platforms, especially on Douyin with 6x higher engagement than the next league Bundesliga.

  2. First league to launch on Bilibili, combining their successful ePremier League esports tournament with long-form video formats to engage this unique younger audience.

We are delighted to have won the Red Card award for a fourth successive season, recognising the Premier League’s commitment to providing innovative ways of engaging with football fans in China. Once again, it has been great to see our digital content prove popular with the passionate and loyal supporters in China. We have seen record engagement on existing platforms along with successful new developments, including the first season of ePremier League China and becoming the first European league to launch on Bilibili. We look forward to introducing more ways for fans in China to enjoy the Premier League experience.” - Premier League Chief Media Officer, Paul Molnar


Cristiano Ronaldo’s Winning Year

  1. Grew 7.7M followers within the first month of launching on Kuaishou, as he became an official ambassador for the short-form video platform. This launch helped to double his total China social following.

  2. His launch on Kuaishou hit the headlines across all key sports media in China, prompting reporters to focus on the ongoing battle between Douyin and Kuaishou.

  3. The most followed and engaged player on Weibo with 7.4M followers, and 5x higher Weibo engagement than the second most engaged player Neymar Jr.

It's an honour to win the Red Card Award for Most Popular Footballer Online in China for the 4th year in a row. The support from fans in China has been amazing so it is important for me to continue engaging with them on social media across my Weibo and Kuaishou channels.” - Cristiano Ronaldo


“It's been a great year connecting with my Chinese fans online and reaching 10M followers. Celebrations around Chinese New Year, cooking delicious local meals, and even learning to speak more Mandarin…these have been just a few of the highlights. I’ve always had such amazing support in China and it’s great to be able to share more stories with fans through these channels” - David Beckham
“The 11th year of publication is testament to how this report has consistently celebrated and educated the international football industry on their continued investment in China. It's exciting to see a growing number of football organisations delivering more unique local content while engaging fans & consumers in new and creative ways. China is at the forefront of digital innovation and the football industry will undoubtedly benefit from that.” - Sum Huang, Endeavor China CEO
“European football leagues, clubs, and players continue to quickly adapt to new China platforms and formats to better engage their audiences. As we enter a FIFA World Cup year, look out for increased interest and further investment from sponsors - it’s going to be a blockbuster year for the industry.” - Andrew Collins, Mailman Group CEO

Mailman is China’s leading sports digital agency. We exist at the intersection of digital & sports. We help top sports organisations & brands to build sustainable businesses in China, one of the world's most challenging markets. Mailman is part of the Endeavor network.

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