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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green


In this week’s edition, we look back on 2019 and pick out the 10 biggest stories which impacted China’s sports business landscape. 

1. Wu Lei Heads for Spain

LaLiga side Espanyol signed Chinese Super League top goalscorer Wu Lei from Shanghai SIPG. Wu, 27, scored a total of 120 goals in 217 games for the CSL champions, including a league-high 27 last season. Read more on SportsPro (English) and Lanxiong Sports (Chinese)

2. Bundesliga Announces China Office

The league announced a long-term strategy aimed at increasing engagement with China to be delivered by its new representative office in Beijing. The office opened in March, and is the latest addition to the league’s global network, adding to other offices in Singapore and New York, plus its strategic partnership with IMG Reliance in India. Read more on Bundesliga (English) and Sports Money (Chinese)

3. Nike Sponsors Tencent’s LPL

The US sports apparel giant signed a 4-year sponsorship deal with Tencent for its League of Legends Pro League (LPL), becoming one of the lead partners of the top eSports league. Nike agreed to around $7.5m a year for the apparel rights to all 16 LPL clubs. Read more on Lanxiong Sports (Chinese) and SportsPro (English)

4. NBA and Alibaba Extend China Partnership

The National Basketball Association (NBA) China and Alibaba Group announced an expansion of their partnership to deliver NBA content on Alibaba’s platforms for the first time, including an enhanced online shopping experience for consumers in China. The launch of an “NBA Section” across Alibaba’s platforms leverage Alibaba’s technology and consumer insights, allowing fans to enjoy more personalised and engaging content, in addition to shopping for NBA merchandise all within one ecosystem. Read more on the NBA in English and Chinese

5. Manchester United Opens Preview Center and Launches China App

The English football club opened a Preview Center to the Club’s Experience Centers as part of a partnership with Harves Entertainment. The first Preview Center opened in Beijing, and is expected to fully open in 2020, followed by centres in Shanghai and Shenyang. The club also announced the launch of a dedicated Chinese-language App. Read more on Sport Business (English) and NetEase Sports (Chinese) 

6. UFC Officially Opens Shanghai Performance Institute

The culmination of more than a year of planning and construction, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) celebrated the grand opening of the UFC Performance Institute Shanghai, the world’s largest, state-of-the-art MMA training and development facility. Read more on SCMP (English) and UFC (Chinese)

7. Suning to Increase Investment in Sport

PP Sports, a division of Suning, launched its three-year broadcasting partnership with the English Premier League. As one of the largest retailers in China, Suning promised more investment in the sports industry as part of its commercial strategy. In 2016, Chinese digital sports media company PP Sports obtained the exclusive broadcasting rights for the Premier League in China and Macau as part of a three-year deal reported at $700m, starting from 2019-20. Read more on Sport Business (English) and Sina (Chinese)

8. NBA & Tencent Extend Partnership Another Five Years

The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Tencent, the exclusive official digital partner of the NBA in China, announced a five-year expansion of their existing partnership. Tencent - the NBA’s largest partner outside the US - provides extensive NBA coverage on its platforms through the 2024-25 NBA season, including live NBA games, NBA programming, and interactive fan experiences. Read more on NBA English & Chinese

9. China Set to Host Expanded World Club Cup in 2021

FIFA has chosen China to host the pilot edition of its expanded 24-team Club World Cup in 2021. The revised 24-team quadrennial tournament, confirmed by FIFA in March this year, is set to replace the existing seven-team Club World Cup, which traditionally takes place every December between the winners of the six premier continental club competitions and the host nation’s national champions. Read more on FIFA (English) and Ecosports (Chinese)

10. Alibaba Group Claims Manchester United Partnership

The partnership includes club content, selected first-team matches, highlights and localised original productions, available to all consumers across Alibaba’s platforms. There will also be a first-of-its-kind, dedicated Manchester United channel on Alibaba’s video-streaming platform, Youku. Read more on Man Utd (English) and Lanxiong Sports (Chinese)


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Mailman is a global sports digital agency and consultancy. We help global rights holders, athletes and brands build a successful business across China, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Learn more about our story here

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