The Premier League, Sponsored by…Asia?
Feb15

The Premier League, Sponsored by…Asia?

Asia’s interest in the Premier League is at an all-time high. A population of young, increasingly affluent and increasingly connected Asian fans are following the Premier League in their hundreds of millions. At last count, the Premier League had 820 million fans in Asia, spanning the length and breadth of the continent. Put simply, the Premier League has more supporters in Asia than anywhere else. Asian interest in the Premier League is not new. What is new, however, is the fact that fans in Asia have more money to spend, and more smartphones, tablets and PCs to watch football on, than ever before. The commercial opportunities created by this fanbase have not been lost on Premier League clubs or indeed on Asian brands and broadcasters. Cash-rich brands from Asia are pouring millions of sponsorship dollars into Premier League clubs. Premier League clubs are responding to the opportunity by bolstering their commercial teams to entice brands with increasingly innovative partnership opportunities. Asian broadcasters are in total spending more on broadcast rights than those in any other continent. This report looks at what is driving these developments, highlights some of the deals that have already been done and considers the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead on both sides of the negotiating table. Shirt sponsorships Let’s start with the shirt sponsors. It is fair to say that Asian brands are rapidly buying up the “shirt real estate” of Premier League clubs. Almost a third of Premier League clubs now have an Asian brand as their main shirt sponsor. The 2013-2014 season sees players from six of the 20 Premier League clubs stepping onto the pitch with an Asian brand emblazoned on their chest. The proportion is even higher (eight out of 23) if one includes Wigan and QPR, who were relegated at the end of the 2012-2013 but who continue to have an Asian brand shirt sponsor. Contrast this with the Premier League ten years ago, in the 2003-2004 season, when just one Asian brand was involved as a shirt sponsor, in the form of Chinese telecoms company, Kejian, which sponsored Everton. Let’s look at the deals that have now been done: Club Shirt Sponsor Country Industry Aston Villa Dafabet Cagayan, Philippines Betting and gaming Cardiff City Malaysia Malaysia Tourism Chelsea Samsung Korea Electronics Everton Chang Beer Thailand Alcoholic beverages Swansea City GWFX Hong Kong Financial services Tottenham Hotspur AIA (cup, full shirt sponsor from next season) Hong Kong Insurance Queens Park Rangers* Air Asia Malaysia Airline Wigan Athletic* 12BET Cagayan, Philippines Betting and gaming *Relegated 2012-2013 A growing menu of partnership opportunities on offer The days when shirt, perimeter fence...

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China lifts ban on games consoles – but with what conditions?
Jan11

China lifts ban on games consoles – but with what conditions?

It looks like China is finally ready to lift its 14-year ban on games consoles made by the likes of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, opening up a potentially lucrative and relatively untapped market. But (and it might be a very big “but”) – there will be conditions attached. The ban The Chinese Government banned gaming consoles back in June 2000. The driving force behind the ban was the perceived “corrupting influence” of gaming consoles on the minds of young people. However, the ban has not stopped Chinese users from playing video games. Far from it. PC gaming is dominant and is understood to constitute around two-thirds of a market that is already valued in the region of $10-13 billion. Online gaming via connected devices (having exploded in the years following the 2000 ban) is also widespread. Finally – despite the ban – there exists a grey market for foreign console devices. Shanghai: a new frontier Back in September 2013, things began to change with the opening of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone – widely viewed as the Government’s “test-bed” for economic and policy reforms and one of its most ambitious economic experiments for decades. At the time of launching the zone the Government announced plans to open up the games console market and that was confirmed by the State Council earlier this week. So far so good for the games console industry. But what about those conditions?  1. Consoles have to be made in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone. The first big condition is that the consoles have to be made in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone. Import of the devices will still be banned. So for interested parties factory capacity will need to be developed within the zone. 2. Look out for the censorship rules. Devices and games will be subject to review and, of course, censorship. Government announcements couldn’t have been clearer on this point: “We want to open the window a crack to get some fresh air, but we still need a screen to block the flies and mosquitoes”. The specific rules will be written by China’s Ministry of Culture, a body responsible for monitoring media content. Although there is no fixed timeframe for the publication of these rules, one can make a pretty good educated guess about their focus. Indeed, comments at a press release on 10 January 2014 led by Cai Wu, head of the Ministry, probably tell us all we need to know: “Things that are hostile to China, or not in conformity with the outlook of China’s government, won’t be allowed”. 3. This might all be temporary. This is an experimental project and, it seems, may only be temporary. This reflects...

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The week in Connected Asia
Dec11

The week in Connected Asia

Here is a quick round-up of stories from a busy week in Connected Asia. 1. China has the highest number of fast-growing tech companies. With 128 companies ranked in Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 Asia-Pacific, China has emerged as the country with the highest number of fast-growing tech companies. China Communications Media Group, which is one of the largest mobile software platforms in China, was the fastest growing of them all. It has grown revenues by a staggering 266 times over the last three years. Taiwan, Australia and India were the other “stand-out” performers, although the tech sector across the region appears to be in fairly good health, despite the slowdown in China and sluggish economic growth in other parts of the world. 2. Amazon is said to be testing a cash-on-delivery business model in India. The Amazon drones made the headlines but the reported move by Amazon to test a “cash-on-delivery” model is one to watch in the e-commerce space in Asia. Consumers in India, particularly in more rural areas, are notoriously reluctant to make up-front payments via e-commerce platforms and this is a major challenge. Cash-on-delivery is far from a perfect solution though, for logistical, financial and legal reasons. First, it raises logistical issues (not least in collecting cash and dealing with rejected goods) that will need to be addressed by Amazon’s local delivery partner, India Post. Second, cash-on-delivery locks up working capital and exposes merchants to the obvious risk of “time-wasting” purchases that are ultimately rejected (although that risk does still exist to some extent with “cooling-off” periods in an up-front payment model). The shortcomings of the cash-on-delivery model are acknowledged but the hope is that it will build trust in e-commerce and that eventually consumers will move towards up-front payments. The fact that ever-innovative Amazon seems to be looking at the model suggests that it could be a long time before up-front replaces on-delivery in India. 3. Singapore’s “Do Not Call” register opens for business. The Asian data shake-up continues apace. On Sunday, Singapore’s new data regulator, the Personal Data Protection Commission, announced the opening of the “Do Not Call” registry. The “Do Not Call” rules under Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Act, which come into effect in January 2014, require businesses to verify with the registry that numbers are not listed there before engaging in direct marketing activities (voice calls, text or fax messages). Around 67,000 unique telephone numbers had been listed on the registry within 24 hours. From January, “Do Not Call” will be a new compliance burden for organisations to address. The remaining rules of Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Act (which impose obligations when it comes to the collection and...

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Welcome to Connected Asia
Nov19

Welcome to Connected Asia

Thanks for visiting Connected Asia. Connected Asia is a blog about tech,  media, gaming and sport in Asia. Right now it’s really a work in progress but there’s more to come soon. Bear with me. Connected Asia is about how the unparalleled and explosive growth in connectivity in Asia is driving all kinds of amazing new technologies and business models in the tech, media, gaming and sports sectors. It’s also about the legal and commercial challenges this growth is creating. Connected Asia is mostly written by Matt Pollins, who’s a lawyer based in Singapore (and originally based in London). Matt is part of the team at Olswang Asia. Olswang is one of the world’s leading tech, media and telecoms law firms with offices in London, Madrid, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Munich and Singapore and an international network of best friend firms. If you’re interested in any of the topics discussed here, please do get in touch. It wouldn’t be a legal blog without a disclaimer. Views expressed on Connected Asia are the author’s own and nothing on Connected Asia constitutes legal advice or creates a lawyer-client relationship. Photo of the laser show at Marina Bay Sands by erwinsoo, who takes some amazing photos of...

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