Americans are fond of saying that football is their true religion, but until recently it was little more than a source of mystery to the rest of the world. When the NFL held its first overseas game, in London in 1983, the organizers found that there were no regulation goalposts or scoreboards in the entire UK. Trying to take the game to China, therefore, sounds at first like a hopeless endeavor. But times are changing. London now hosts four regular-season NFL games per year to sellout crowds. Richard Young, Managing Director of NFL China, thinks that similar growth could soon be taking place in China.
eSports is more than playing digital games online. With an estimated market value of $104 million in 2017, it is a multi-billion industry that both traditional and tech companies are pursuing in China. It is about networking, with millions of people watching contests online at a same time, and about a new way for brands to get closer to Chinese millennial, a demographic many find tricky to connect to. Behind the momentum is both digital sophistication and a maturing internet ecosystem in China. Yet to continue expanding, the industry is facing the difficulty of finding an entrance for traditional sports like soccer and basketball.
China’s desire to become an elite football nation is having an impact on and off the pitch. While the national football team still has no way to comfort their weary fans, the government has unveiled grand visions for the game’s development, exhibiting a desire for international prestige and a more consumption-based economy. Although observers say China Soccer League standards have improved, currently the men’s national team languishes 81st in FIFA’s rankings, below Zambia. In contrast to China’s success in many Olympic sports, where a top-down training model has yielded amazing results, football, as a team sport, is less suited to such a model. There is no quick fix.
Chinese companies are buying football clubs and investing in sports companies all over the world, despite the fact that many of them had zero experience in sports before. Some investors think it’s a good opportunity to invest in the world-class sports assets when many of them are undervalued and cash-thirsty amid sluggish economic growth in Europe. But for Chinese buyers, there are both political and economic factors at play. The Chinese authority supports the buying, hoping that these overseas sports resources will help boost the domestic industry. But will they bring real changes and improve the performance of China’s national football team?
When you think of sports brands, there’s pretty much a 50% chance that it’s Adidas that comes to mind. This, after all, is the company that has provided the match ball for the FIFA World Cups, whose final is the most watched sporting event in the world, since 1970. But for all that, success in China hasn’t been a given, and at the turn of the decade Adidas found itself languishing in fourth place behind the likes of Nike and Li-Ning.
As the number of high net worth individuals in China increases, people are developing a taste for luxury. According to The Hurun Report, a magazine known for its annual “China Rich List”, the number of dollar billionaires in mainland China surpassed that of the US for the first time in 2015, with 596 to the US’s 537. As a result, luxury pastimes from the West, such as car shows, auctions, yachting and polo, are making their way into the country. Even services like finishing schools are flourishing. What’s interesting is that these so-called Western luxury pastimes are taking on Chinese characteristics.
An underdog in an industry dominated by giants, sportswear brand Under Armour recently pulled off a growth miracle by increasing its quarterly revenues more than 20% in 21 consecutive quarters. The 19-year-old Baltimore, MD-based company surpassed its German competitor Adidas last year in sales in the US, only trailing Nike in the world’s largest sportswear market. And now Under Armour trying to replicate its success in global markets, especially China. What does it have going for it in the world’s second-largest consumer market?
People are taking to soccer in China, but is it just a passing fad or a phenomena that’s here to stay?
The International Olympics Committee has mastered the art of monopoly pricing Now that the Olympics is over it is a good time to reflect on its economics. The Olympics is big business with an estimated $5 billion in revenue flowing to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from 2009 to 2012 . Aside from television income, […]
Football in China: big business or a tale of flawed finances?