If you’d bought the broadcast rights for the 2015 China’s football league, it would have cost you $13 million. If you’d done the same for the next five years, you’d be looking at $260 million a year. It follows similar deals such as Baidu’s $269 million five-year agreement to stream Spain’s La Liga football matches and the estimated $500 million Tencent paid for five-years of NBA games.
Spending big bucks on broadcast rights for sports is happening everywhere. As traditional TV advertising models wrangle with on-demand viewing, the nature of live sport means viewers can’t fast-forward commercials. That’s seen sport account for almost 40% of broadcast TV advertising in the U.S. alone.
The massive broadcasting deals are an indicator of the growing value of sport in China. The Government realises the health, productivity, diplomatic and general happiness benefits that come with sports, and have vowed to create a sports industry worth $800 billion by 2025. This will account for 1% of the GDP, up from 0.6% today.
Chinese parents are also increasingly encouraging their kids to participate in sports as they focus on giving them a more balanced upbringing, teamwork skills for only-children and preparation for the growing number studying overseas.
China’s youth – independent of their parent’s encouragement – are also looking at sport as a release from competitive academic environments and as a way to demonstrate their individuality.
Ping pong and badminton are losing favour to Western sports with basketball and football are leading the gains in exposure. Tennis has been helped by the now-retired Li Na’s success, and golf is a sport Chinese shows a lot of promise on the world circuit, although it took a hit after being singled out in the anti-corruption component the latest 13th Five Year plan.
As Chinese seek more niche offerings with almost everything they do, NFL’s long term investment in China is likely to drive a passionate following, helped by the much-anticipated China NFL movie. Although rugby is still tiny in China, work from committed expat coaches, its inclusion in the Rio Olympics and the Japan’s hosting of the 2019 World Cup could help the sport, particularly for women.
The growth of sport in China is likely to bring prospects for many segments from tourism, to food & beverage, to fashion. China Skinny can help to realise those opportunities. Go to Page 2 to see this week’s China news and highlights.