The gateway to China: Three platforms for establishing a presence in China

In the past few years, the overall scale of China's sports industry has been on an upward trend. It is predicted to continue to grow rapidly in the future, offering opportunities to companies and sports clubs from all over the world.

When entering the Chinese sports industry, foreign enterprises and clubs should focus their attention on WeChat, TikTok and RED - three key platforms on the Chinese market that have great significance.

Sports Contents in Chinese social platforms

Over the last few years, China's sports industry has been experiencing a consistent upward trend in its overall scale. According to the State Council's National Fitness Plan, the total scale of China's sports industry is expected to reach 5 trillion yuan by 2025, with an industry space of over 2 trillion yuan (1).

With the development of media, creative content such as game highlights are more popular among young viewers than watching the whole game, and this part of the audience has a high overlap with small-screen mobile users, so digital content has not only become a sports "product" promoted by platforms, but also one of the core focuses of brands investing in sports marketing.

Three Powerful Platforms

TikTok, RED and WeChat are undoubtedly the three most powerful and attractive players. They all have strong social attributes, and users can enjoy the atmosphere brought by sports through watching and talking about it, whether they understand it or not. In addition, the UGC brought by massive content creators is also an important treasure for these three platforms to excel.

In this boom, major sports clubs and teams have also flocked to these platforms to directly interact with fans through fast, trendy while authoritative content, and to capture potential new fans.

Quality Information as a Building Block

Compared to RED and TikTok, the WeChat subscriptions appear to be more authoritative and official. Since its inception in 2012, it has consistently been the preferred platform for content creators, thanks to its vast user base on the Chinese Internet. According to Tencent's Q1 2023 earnings report, WeChat boasts a monthly active users count of 1.32 billion, firmly establishing it as China's top instant messaging service (2).

Within the WeChat system, subscription accounts rely heavily on interpersonal contacts for content distribution, with reading engagement primarily dependent on exchanges in private chats or Moments feeds.

At a time when users are easily distracted, long articles lose their appeal. WeChat's philosophy has long been to be an information efficiency tool, with subscriptions serving as an efficient channel for accessing quality information. When creating an account, it is therefore crucial to improve article readability and write eye-catching titles, as these elements are central to effectively delivering information to readers.

Sports Content Thrives in The RED Community

In 2022, RED boasted 260 million monthly active users, with 20 million active creators posting over 3 million daily. Daily usage per capita rose to 55.31 minutes from 26.49 in 2018 and daily searches neared 300 million. 173,000 brands joined from 200+ countries (3).

RED stands out for prioritizing Key Opinion Consumers (1,000-50,000 fans) and Key Opinion Leaders (50,000+ fans) over top influencers. This unique approach stems from its decentralized flow and strategy (4).

RED's essence is its community, known for sharing personal experiences beyond knowledge. It fosters engagement by integrating user profiles and lifestyles. Athletes thrive here, cultivating dynamic images and connecting with fans.

Comparing 2022 to 2021, RED saw a 362% rise in football-related content and a 340% increase in posts. Major football clubs like Barcelona, Juventus and Manchester United enhance the sports content.

  • 1.32 billion

    Monthly Active Users are recorded by WeChat

  • 362 %

    increase in football-related content on RED

  • + 120 million

    sports content creators on TikTok

Short Videos as The Mainstream Trend of Sports Content

TikTok focuses on top influencers, while Key Opinion Consumers with smaller follower numbers serve as a second choice for brands, offering them more flexibility in shaping their product offerings.

Today's sports enthusiasts prefer active engagement to passive content consumption, and user interaction is becoming increasingly important. A study by the Centre for Sport and Management at Germany's Ottobesen Institute of Management predicts that the majority of viewers, 64%, are increasingly inclined to consume premium sports content on their mobile devices. While viewers still prefer live broadcasts on larger screens, other content, such as highlights, is increasingly being consumed on mobile devices thanks to technological advances.

In June 2022, data showed that TikTok had more than 120 million sports content creators in February 2022, with more than 63,000 accounts that had 10,000 or more followers. There was also a sizeable user base of more than 470 million sports enthusiasts. During the year from January 2021 to February 2022, TikTok's sports content reached an astonishing 2 trillion views (5).

This online traffic advantage, combined with the platform's closed-loop production capabilities, synergistically contribute to TikTok's distinctive competitive advantage in the sports space. Users can watch, converse, interact and create content on a single platform, cementing TikTok's status as the premier destination for the public to access elite and competitive sports content.

The Chinese sports industry presents promising opportunities for foreign enterprises and clubs. To succeed, it's crucial to establish a robust presence on key platforms such as WeChat, TikTok, and RED.

By harnessing the unique features and strengths of these platforms, foreign enterprises and clubs can tap into the vast Chinese market, effectively engage their target audience, and elevate their sports marketing efforts to new heights.


(1) Baku Baidu | (2) ITHome | (3) JIEMAN | (4) Rocket Data | (5) Access Path

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