Sports / China Daily Exclusive

Sponsors confident in future of basketball league

By Sun Xiaochen ( Updated: 2014-09-16 16:19

Despite the national basketball team's recent lackluster performance, the sport remains the most commercially appealing in the market, said the marketing partner of the Chinese Basketball Association.

Following the men's national squad's fifth-place finish at the Asian Championships in 2013, its worst result since 1975, Chinese hoops fans might have lowered their expectations for the team's upcoming Asian Games campaign in Incheon, South Korea, but sponsors still have faith in the CBA league's commercial prosperity.

The interest was proven by joint venture automaker FAW-Volkswagen's signing with CBA on Tuesday to become a major sponsor of the league in the next three seasons.

Ma Guoli, president of Infront China, CBA's marketing and promoting partner, believes the league's commercial value will significantly grow in the years to come.

"In the next couple of years, CBA's value, reflected by endorsement deals, will increase to a level that is much higher than its current amount, as basketball will still be the No 1 sport in popularity and viewership even though the national team didn't play well enough internationally," Ma told China Daily after the signing ceremony.

Hu Hanjie, vice-general manager of FAW-Volkswagen's commercial department, hailed CBA as an ideal platform to demonstrate the brand's vibrant and dramatic image.

In return for brand promotions on courtside billboards and at outdoor activities, FAW-Volkswagen will inject a huge amount of funds into the league, ranking second in league history only to sports goods brand Li-Ning's $323 million over five years, said Ma.

Infront China attracted a record number of 25 sponsors, who contributed $80 million for the league's 2013-14 season.

"I am confident that we will agree on a higher price (with major sponsors) when the contracts need to be renewed," Ma said.

CBA's six-game final series of the 2013-2014 season, won 4-2 by the Beijing Ducks over Xinjiang Flying Tigers, attracted 162 million viewers, making it this year's second most-watched sporting event after tennis star Li Na's Australian Open final in January, according to CSM Media Research.

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