With the end of the “Big 5” European football leagues, the UEFA Champions League and the NBA entering the final stage, the 2018 FIFA World Cup will inevitably become the focus of attention of the entire world.
In China, overseas leagues are certainly more favorable for Chinese fans, due to their higher competitive level, better marketing strategies and mature operating models. In contrast, most football competitions in the country are still in their early stages of development.
For most sports fans, their local professional football leagues have played an even more important role in their daily life than overseas events. For Chinese people, it’s the Chinese Super League (CSL), the top professional football league in the country.
As Chinese sports IP that has the most participants of Chinese sports events, the CSL has made remarkable achievements in commercial aspects including media rights, ticket sales, sponsorship deals, development of derivatives and overall social influence.
According to a recent official news conference, there were more than 5.7 million people who attended CSL matches in the 2017 season, as the average number of spectators per game reached 23,700. Meanwhile, a total of 2,170 CSL games were broadcast on television media networks, reaching a cumulative audience of 434 million viewers.
For the 2018 season, there were more than 1.79 million people attending the first 9 rounds of matches, with the number of attendees for each match reaching 24,900 people, making it 5th place among professional football leagues around the world. 590 CSL matches were broadcast on TV, including CCTV and local TV networks, reaching 88 million TV viewers.
580 print media companies and more than 2000 internet media platforms in China also reported on China’s top football league, with reports covering 8 city derbies, 16 home matches and 12 Chinese cities.
Most Notably, the league was also streamed by over 20 overseas networks, including Sky Sports and Fox Sports, in 96 countries and regions, covering more than 100 million household users.
The fact is, the Chinese sports market is currently more dependent on “sporting goods and related product manufacturing” (sports manufacturing), and “sporting goods, related products sales, trade agencies and rentals” (sports services). In other words, the country has to continue to foster other markets to maintain the healthy development of its sports industry.
Against such a market environment, the CSL’s continuous development will undoubtedly become a key driver of China’s sports industry.
The CSL has signed striking sponsorship deals with brands from different industries, including:
◆ Official Partners: Nike, DHL, Shell and Laoshan Beer
◆ Official Suppliers: TAG HEUER, Ganten, Absen, and Eastroc Beverage
◆ Official Media Partner: China Sports Media (CSM)
◆ Official Game Partner: Fengkuang.com
◆ Official Image Partner: Dongfang IC
◆ Official Data Supplier: Amisco
◆ Official Public Welfare Partner: China Soong Ching Ling Foundation
◆ Senior Official Partner: SAIC Group
Take Ping An Insurance as an example. In 2014, the Chinese insurance brand defeated many competitors such as Ford Motors, Volkswagen and Coship Electronics, with an offer of CNY150m per year, replacing Dalian Wanda to become the current title sponsor of the CSL.
Although Coship Electronics was reported to offer CNY170m per year, the Chinese Football Association (CFA) and the CSL Company finally joined forces with Ping An, who they think are more commercially successful. In May 2017, Ping An also extended a five-year deal with the league for CNY1bn.
To better allocate resources of the CSL, Ping An has launched an online marketing campaign called “Fortune Games”, aiming to satisfy the financial needs of internet users with exclusive products and customized sports insurance services. The insurance company also took a big bite out of an impressive TV media opportunity and came out with over CNY12.843bn, which was generated from of the exposure length of 11,462 hours and 44 minutes.
“The development of any event is closely related to sponsors’ attention. A league in a stable development process will create a more attractive platform with more return on investment (ROI) for sponsors,” said, Cai Yong, a CFA officer.
“In the past five years, the point gap for CSL teams has gradually narrowed…The CSL has seen significant improvement in policy terms, sponsor protection mechanisms and the guarantee of fairness in events.” Cai added.
Proofread by William Logsdon