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Asian star power [China Daily: Hong Kong Edition]
[April 27, 2014]

Asian star power [China Daily: Hong Kong Edition]

(China Daily: Hong Kong Edition Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) A new generation of sports icons and their growing fan base create opportunities for global marketers In her post-match speech after winning this year's Australian Open, China's Li Na made sure to thank her agent at IMG, a global talent-representing company, for making her rich.

Apart from the $2.4 million in prize money, the most successful female tennis player in Asia knew that her second Grand Slam title would unquestionably improve her position in the list of highest paid women athletes, with new endorsement deals likely to come her way.

"We are waiting on a deal announcement for her in a couple of weeks," Mary Jane Orman, vice-president of communications at IMG Tennis, tells China Daily.

Li is not the lone deal sensation in Asian sports. Signaling growth in the Asian sports market, four other players also made into the recent Forbes list of the world's highest paid athletes. Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao topped Asia with $34 million, followed by Indian cricketers MS Dhoni ($33.5 million) and Sachin Tendulkar ($22 million), and Japan's baseball star Ichiro Suzuki ($19.6 million).

"Various sports are creating icons, and icons are in turn helping the sports industry to grow," says Mark Dreyer, founder of China Sports Insider, a sports business news and analysis website.

The rise of Chinese star Yao Ming in the National Basketball Association in the United States is believed to have led to basketball becoming the common man's sport in China, with courts becoming commonplace in the yards of many export factories.

The recent emergence of golfing sensation Andy Zhang indicates that the 16-year-old Chinese star could be on his way to becoming the next Tiger Woods, with high-profile sponsors sitting up to take note of future deals.

Last year, Nike signed its first head-to-toe endorsement deals with two Chinese golfers, Li Hao-Tong and Zhang Xin-Jun.

A report by HSBC, Golf's 2020 Vision, said a boom in the numbers of children teeing in China and India means that the next generation of golfers is likely to be dominated by people from Asia. "Players like Shanshan Feng and Andy Zhang are a sign of things to come," it predicted.

NBA and Yao courting further success  Huawei inks sponsor deal with AC Milan  Li Na of China, returns a shot from Caroline Wozniacki, of Denmark, at the Sony Open Tennis tournament, March 26, 2014, in Key Biscayne, Miami, US. [Photo/] Experts believe that one reason for the popularity of sports in Asia is that consumers are turning to leisure activities as they get wealthier. In China, the number of golf courses has tripled in less than a decade.

Taking a cue from the growth of sports in Asia, IMG Reliance - a joint venture between IMG and Reliance Industries, an Indian conglomerate - signed a 30-year partnership with the Basketball Federation of India.

NBA is leagues ahead in sports promotion game  Ping An to sponsor China football league The deal sees the BFI granting IMG Reliance a range of commercial rights including sponsorship, advertising, broadcasting, merchandising, film, video and data, intellectual property, franchising and new league rights.

IMG Reliance separately signed a 15-year partnership deal with the All India Football Federation, the governing body for soccer in India, for commercial rights to football across all properties controlled by the federation, including media rights, sponsorship and advertising rights, and licensing and merchandising rights.

"The center of gravity of sports business will move to Asia. Just as the popularity of cricket in India means that the subcontinent has become the economic and political center of cricket," says Marcus Luer, founder and CEO of Total Sports Asia, a sports marketing agency with offices in Southeast Asia, South Asia and East Asia.

"More TV exposure, bigger purses and sponsorship opportunities will help sports to grow significantly in the future in the Asian region," he adds.

According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study, Changing the Game: Outlook for the Global Sports Market to 2015, the Asia-Pacific region has the world's third-largest sports market, with revenue of around $24 billion, and is expected to have the world's third-fastest growth rate of 3.9 percent in 2015.

The North America and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) regions are the largest and the second-largest sports markets in the world, respectively. Latin America is smallest with only 4.9 percent of the pie.

"The potential for sports business in Asia is bigger than we can imagine. We have over 4 billion of the world's population and sports are becoming more of a lifestyle and entertainment for us," says Ronnie Lee, CEO of the Singapore-based Asia Pacific School of Sports and Business.

NBA and Yao courting further success  Huawei inks sponsor deal with AC Milan  "The growth of Asian sports business is due to many companies getting involved in various Asian sports. Global and Asian companies are spending more money to build their brand name through sports," he says.

German tire maker Continental recently announced a deal with the Asian Football Confederation to become a sponsor of the AFC Asian Cup 2015 in Australia. Under the deal, the firm will serve as the exclusive tire partner and official sponsor of the event, which will be held in January.

NBA is leagues ahead in sports promotion game  Ping An to sponsor China football league South Korean car manufacturer Kia Motors has renewed sponsorship of the annual Archery World Cup and other top international archery competitions. Kia has reaped the benefits of sponsoring archery, one of the most popular sports in South Korea, with enormous exposure in the media.

South Korean fashion and retail conglomerate E-Land Group, which has branches in more than 10 countries including China and India, is sponsoring a professional football club in Seoul that will compete in the K-League Challenge.

"Football in Asia has witnessed consistent growth in recent years, with last year's (European) Champions League final attracting the largest TV audience for a sporting event in China, with an average audience totaling over 30 million," says David Shin, director of Hong Kong-based Sporting Republic, a sport management agency.

"The rise in television audience numbers for football also underlines the belief that sports business is headed in the right direction. This is good news for sponsors as their brands get maximum visibility and exposure in Asia." In 2012, Chelsea Football Club signed a merchandising partnership with Grand Royal Whisky in Myanmar, highlighting the reach of the English Premier League across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region.

Formula One motor racing has also made substantial business inroads into Asia. With the long-running Japanese Grand Prix, it also has circuits in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Singapore, India, South Korea, Australia and China.

"Asia is one of the most important regions for Formula One team sponsors and for the development of the series," says Askari H. Zaidi, senior vice-president of corporate communications at the Jaypee Group, a conglomerate based in India. The group has developed India's premier motorsport destination, Buddh International Circuit, near New Delhi.

NBA and Yao courting further success  Huawei inks sponsor deal with AC Milan  "We need to have a racing culture to turn around motor sport," Zaidi says.

Experts in the field believe that Asia has changed the face of the sporting industry by hosting global events like the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games and leading tennis and golf tournaments.

NBA is leagues ahead in sports promotion game  Ping An to sponsor China football league A report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, The big league? The business of sport in China, says the 2008 Beijing Olympics marked a turning point for China in terms of sports business.

"The success of the Olympics has raised curiosity about China as a market for sport," the report says. "The country built world-class facilities, including the 91000-seat Bird's Nest STET stadium and the futuristic Water Cube aquatics center. The opening ceremony drew a local television audience of 842 million people. More than 100 million Chinese watched the Olympics online." In 2010, the State Council - the highest executive organ of State administration - issued for the first time a document promoting the sports industry in China, and predicted the market size of the nation's sports industry will be worth 2 trillion yuan ($320 billion) by 2020.

The document, Guiding Opinion on Accelerating the Development of the Sports Industry in China, indicates that both domestic and foreign private investment in China's sports industry will be actively encouraged, and market exploration of sports performance and recreational sports would be put into action to a greater extent.

In the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), China specified that it would vigorously develop public sports and improve public sports facilities.

"Efforts will be taken to optimize the competitive sports structure and improve the overall strength of competitive sports and promote the coordinated development of sports facilities and the sports industry," the guideline states.

NBA and Yao courting further success  Huawei inks sponsor deal with AC Milan    (c) 2014 China Daily Information Company. All Rights Reserved. Provided by, an company

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