Pioneering New Trends in the Chinese Sports Market – Tencent Sports

April 5, 2016

China makes up one-fifth of the world’s population so the potential sports market within the country is vast.

The country seems to be at, or at least coming to, the front of the sports market with over 80 million core watchers of the NBA as an example.

This coupled with the multi-million dollar investment in football and there appears to be a new major player in the world of sport.

Tencent Sports is the largest online sports content provider in China; their Director of Business Development and Cooperation Lusha Echo Yang believes the market is about to reach new heights…

The sports industry in China only accounts for 0.6% of its GDP, which is far below the average in developed countries where the sports industry tends to contribute around 2%.

With the vast development of the Chinese economy, we can see that sports marketing in China is entering its ‘explosion age’. 

Because of this, we have noticed several trends that are worth noting.

The first trend is that new media is playing a more and more important role in connecting sports with the audience.

As China’s largest online sports content provider, we can see the value of reaching out to consumers.

The integration of new media and sports benefits big data mining and enables us to garner a better understanding of what our users want.

We believe that there will still be much more growth for the Chinese sports industry – with the help of new media, Tencent is increasing sports audience numbers in China.

According to the 37th “Chinese Internet Development Statistical Report” by CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Center), Chinese Internet user volume has reached 688 million people as of December 2015.

In terms of content quality, the industry also has room to improve.

In addition to adopting the latest technology to improve audience experience, Tencent is also actively exploring more options in sports marketing to influence and reach out to more sports viewers, including building the online community for sports fans.

We have also seen that Chinese people are starting to pay more attention to new sports that were not previously well-known in China, for example, winter sports.

Tencent Sports has been praised by Mr. Adam Silver, Commissioner of NBA, as the “highest quality I have seen anywhere in the world”.


I think that this is because we have invested a lot to focus on how we can improve the viewer experience.

Tencent Sports has been actively upgrading its backstage technology to guarantee the sharpness and fluency of match viewing.

We have also introduced a multi-perspective viewing experience.

For example, we have invested to set-up an overseas optical fiber which runs directly from the NBA venues to our broadcast studio.

This strengthens our signal and ensures that we offer the quickest transmission.

We also utilize the latest studio equipment, such as Steadicam N-Cam, to enhance the quality of our studio broadcasts, as well as introducing an 
option for viewers to watch matches from multiple.

This includes, from both sides of the basketball court or even from the courtside VIP seats.


Tencent has been using its vast experience in content development and community building to engage with our users/sports fans, and to attract potential new users/sports fans.

We have already produced 10 NBA relevant in-house programmes, including “Miracles of NBA”, “Rise Beyond”, “Basketball Star Podcast” and “A Tale of City”.

We are also enriching and improving the construction of the sports community’s and its operation in order to develop online conversations among fans and between fans and the sports stars.

We have previously invited NBA stars like Rajon Rondo, Klay Thompson and Dwight Howard to join our online community and interact with Chinese fans directly.

Our online engagement programmes have achieved a positive response.

During the period of 2016, NBA All-Star Game, a single live broadcast post on Tencent Sports community, received 450,000 comments, demonstrating Tencent’s strong social DNA advantage.

Tecent Sports new telestudio

Television is no longer the only channel for people to watch sports matches or events.

Instead, new media takes advantage of the internet and connects everyone with sports.

The quality live experience that Tencent Sports offers has changed user habits when watching sports and in-depth operations around sports tournaments.

This will force the industry to upgrade to the next level.

Last but not least, media rights does not remain our only focus – attracting and retaining talent will become a fiercer competition, we foresee that sports marketing will also become diversified, and entertainment as well as gaming industries and so on will become important battlefields when the sports industry seeks to connect to its target audience.


Echo YangEcho joined Tencent in 2007 as a Sports Journalist and Editor, before transferring to the Sports Business Development department in 2011.

In her role as Business Development & Cooperation Director, Echo and her team are leading the introduction of world-wide sports entities and rights holders in China, including UEFA Champions League, CBA, EPL, NFL, etc.

Echo is also a key member of the cooperation negotiation projects for Tencent-China’s Olympic Committee sponsorship and Tencent-NBA exclusive digital partnership in China.

Echo has a BA from the Communication University of China, and achieved a Master Degree for Management from Renmin University, China.