• Andrew Collins

The 2017 Champions League Semifinals in China

Updated: May 29, 2019

This week, we will witness the 25th edition of the UEFA Champions League semifinals. A global blockbuster broadcasted in more than 200 countries around the world, including China. We have pointed out several of challenges the UEFA Champions League faces in China. Still, 95% of the 350 Million Chinese football fans prefer the UCL over the Asian Champions League with 64% identifying it as their favourite tournament. Therefore, all semifinalists should profit in terms of popularity in China big time from the nearing event. We at Mailman can’t wait for the upcoming semifinals, so much so, that we’ve matched the teams up head to head on their Chinese digital media performance.

Real Madrid vs. Atlético Madrid

Real Madrid: Los Galácticos self-conception is to be always number one and China is no exception. When it comes to total engagement, no club in Europe can compete with them. The reason for this is not only their success, as we pointed out recently, a club’s success does not go hand in hand with its popularity in China. It’s more down to Real Madrid’s commitment to the Chinese fans that makes them big. For example, just last week Real Madrid released its own china specific App.

In contrast, the engagement of the club is not the best in relation to the number of followers (Passion Index), only fourth of all European clubs. We need to highlight this particularly, as Real’s total followers are just seventh highest among European football clubs on Weibo, not very royal.

Atlético Madrid: Local rivals Atlético also tries to engage with fans in China. If we have a look at their total followers, Atletico is a long way off Champions League calibre contention. It ranks between two mid-tier Bundesliga clubs, Borussia Mönchengladbach and HSV. However, in comparison to followers, its engagement is huge. Atletico’s Weibo page is very creative and beats its competitor by far in the Passion Index, which indicates a higher percentage of core fans.

Mailman’s Winner: It seems to us that the city of Madrid is in love with China! Both clubs engage themselves in different ways a lot. But as much as we would like to give Atletico the win for its creativity, the local rival is at least one league ahead. Win Real Madrid.


Juventus vs. AS Monaco

Juventus Turin: When we talk about followers on Sina Weibo, the Bianconeri’s account is small, very small. They have just a third of the followers of West Bromwich Albion and rank just above Chievo Verona. The reason for it is simple, Juve went all-in on the wrong horse. The club was very active on Tencent Weibo and ignored Sina Weibo completely. Just recently Sina won the “Weibo war” against Tencent. Since March, Juve has been trying to get back on their feet, but it’s a tough business as the competition increased enormously in the last couple of years.

The core fans did follow their club over to Sina Weibo and this is represented by the huge amount of engagement relative to their followers. Being in the top 10 of the most engaged clubs, Juve is not represented on the Passion Index yet, as only clubs with over 150,000 followers were considered. But if Juve stays as creative and passionate in the Chinese market as they are now, they will soon appear at the top.  

AS Monaco: In short, Monaco is non-existent on the Chinese digital landscape. They haven’t got a Weibo page, a WeChat account and are not even dreaming of an App. Ligue 1 is the least popular of the four major European leagues in China and the performance in European competitions has not been particularly noteworthy in recent years. But if Monaco keeps its young talent on track and its fresh style of play, it will be time to venture into China soon!

Mailman’s Winner: Well, it’s a very unfair challenge. The future will tell if it’ll get a closer challenge in the next years. For now: Win Juventus.

Mailman is a China sports digital marketing agency. We help deliver expert digital & social media programs for the world’s most powerful sports organisations in China.


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