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Sina Sports: from sports media to sports industry company

Wednesday, 13 Apr 2016 19:19   |   By Wang Hailong

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As a leading digital sports media site in China, Sina Sports has been an important player in the sports industry over the past 15 years. The fast-changing industry and intense competition force participants in the industry to adapt quickly to new circumstances. For this reason Sina Sports began to transform from a sports media to a sports industry company last year. Now, its business is expanding from match coverage to sports event operation, sports agency business, and sports training etc.

Recently Sina Sports announced a strategic partnership with IMG Academy. They will work together on the promotion of a new series of training and coaching videos made by IMG Academy, the world-renowned athletic training institute, through their respective channels.

Given Sina Sports and IMG Academy are both leaders in their own fields, what chemistry can their co-operation bring about? What are Sina Sports’ intentions in sports event intellectual property? What role does Weibo play in sports marketing?

With these questions in mind, Yutang Sports recently interviewed Arthur Wei, Senior Vice President of Sina.

Sina Sports / IMG alliance cuts into sports training market 

Sina Sports used to be a key channel of Sina Corp, dedicated to sports coverage. Later Sina Sports separated from Sina Corp and began to operate independently. In the future, as Sina Sports dig deeper into the sports industry, it may not be long before they go public. As for now, Sina Sports’ PC daily page view is 120million. The WAP daily page view is 260million. The Sina Sports app has been downloaded 31.45million times.

These strong content resources and platform advantage make Sina Sports a natural partner choice for IMG.

As for IMG, it is home to many sport stars such as tennis superstar Maria Sharapova and Japanese tennis star Nishikori Kei.

“Sports training and coaching resources are scarce in China. The co-operation between IMG and Sina Sports will relieve this problem to a big extent”, said Wei.

“IMG Academy will upload basketball, golf, football and tennis training videos to Sina Sports with Chinese subtitles for Chinese consumers so they can receive professional training.”

Sports training is a key area in Sina Sports’ foray into the sports industry. Apart from online training videos, Sina Sports and IMG will coach offline in the future, bringing advanced international sports training systems into China in a comprehensive way,and boosting the level of domestic sports training.

“In sports training, we are launching international coaching videos in co-operation with IMG. We are also launching coaching content for runners with Sun Yingjie, a medal-winning Chinese female long-distance runner. ” 

“As regards professional sports clubs, we are launching running clubs, integrating online and offline resources to offer an industry eco-system service.”

Sina Sports’ roadmap in sports industry intellectual property

The co-operation between Sina Sports and Manchester United TV not only broadens Sina Sports’ thinking about  Sports Media Intellectual Property but also meets nearly 100 million domestic Manchester United fans’ demand for quality content at the same time.

In content making, Sina Sports invite football big names, such as Michael Owen, Carlo Ancelotti, Gary Neville, Eden Hazard and Peter Schmeichel to contribute columns, upload videos, Q&A on a specially set Sina Sports programme《Ace》. They will be sharing their views and engaging with Sina Sports users and Chinese fans.

These first-hand videos and columns are customized exclusively for Sina Sports, which make them more attractive among Sina Sports users.

As for basketball, Sina Sports will join hands with Kobe Byrant and Lin Xilei (a famous Chinese actress) who is also a fan of Kobe, to launch a documentary recording Kobe’s last season in NBA.

Given Sina Sports’ close relationship with popular social media platform Sina Weibo, both of which originate from Sina Corp, when Sina Sports cooperate with a big name or company, it usually advises them to open an account on Weibo. This makes it easy for them to engage with Chinese fans. At the same time, the resulting product of the co-operation between Sina Sports and star/company can be promoted through Sina Sports and Sina Weibo.

Nowadays sports events, sports stars and sports KOL all promote through self-media, attracting lots of fans as a result.

From the perspective of Arthur Wei, as the information era of de-centralization and fragmentation is on the rise, social media will play a bigger role in sports marketing. The partnership with Sina Weibo gives Sina Sports a unique advantage in promoting and operating overseas sports events in China.

Sina Sports’ view on sports talent

From last year, the Chinese sports industry has got on the fast track. As government policy now supports the development of the sports industry, more and more cities are beginning to host sports events, encouraging citizens to participate in fitness activity and promoting the city image. More and more non-governmental sports organizations can host sports events without administrative examination and approval. Conglomerates such as Alibaba and the Wanda Group have made a comprehensive cut into various areas of the sports industry through M&A and developing sports events. More and more start-ups involved in the sports industry are springing up. More and more smartphone applications focusing on fitness and health are being developed.

However despite the huge capital poured into the sports industry, the short supply of professional talents who can meet the fast development of the sports industry is a problem.

Wei said that at present those who are well regarded in the sports industry are basically divided between those who major in sports management in overseas universities and those who have accumulated years of practical experience in the industry.

Given that advertisements and sponsorship are still the main streams of revenue in the business development of domestic sports event, those who are experienced in advertising, marketing and sports management will be in demand.

As for the staff structure of Sina Sports, more than half come from the sports and marketing field. Some of the employees are loyal fans of Sina Sports for years.

Sina Sports is in high demand for talents as it transforms itself from a traditional sports media to a sports industry company.

Conclusion

2016 is a key year in Sina Sports’ foray into sports event development. Besides match coverage, Sina Sports will explore and develop totally new sports events and will own the intellectual property of these events.

Sina Sports will upgrade basketball events to a new level,for example it will build the most influential Three-on-Three basketball event in China.

Sina Sports will make an effort to get into the complete industrial chain of running.

Sina Sports will step into the sports agency business by unearthing grassroots stars when it hosts events to select Sports commentator and cheerleaders from sports fans.

Sina Sports will build a sports industry matrix composed of sports events, clubs, training and agency.

Arthur Wei has served as Senior Vice President in SINA since 4th Jan. 2015. He has overall responsibility for Business Management Department, Mobility Business Department, Commercial Channel Department, and Marketing and Strategic Cooperation Department for 4 months; since 4th Apr. 2015, he has been focusing on the sport business, and been the General Manager of SINA Sports till now.

Before SINA, Arthur was in charge of Lenovo’s integrated marketing and brand communications in China and Ecosystem and Cloud Services Business Group from 2007 to 2014. He joined the group in 2007 as Vice President of Strategy and Business Operations for Greater China. He took charge of Lenovo’s server and digital peripheral business in 2008, and high-performance server business in 2009. From 2009 to 2010, he was responsible on Lenovo’s business in Russia and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and he was Chief Operating Officer of Lenovo emerging market in 2011. Since 2012, he was pointed as Chief Marketing Officer of Lenovo China and extended his focus to Lenovo Ecosystem and Cloud Services Business Group starting from 2014. 

Previously, Wei joined HP China as Affiliate Business Manager in 1996, and became General Manager of Integrated Circuit Business Division in 1997. He was appointed Global Sales Manager of HP Solution Products and Consulting Services in 2001, and HP Global Partner Alliance Manager for Telecommunications in 2002. He became HP’s Brand Director General Manager of North China in 2005. 

He holds a MBA from Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University.

Tags: sports companies,sports industry,digital media,social media,sport events,,,

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