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Sports Business in Asia is More than Just a Game

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

Key industry leaders came together to discuss the salient trends and challenges faced by the sports businesses industry in Asia, at a dialogue held by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) earlier this week.

The one-day event provided a platform for discussion around the various factors impacting the sports business ecosystem, from content to events and infrastructure.

stb-singapore“Sports in Singapore has come a long way, and we’ve witnessed countless achievements in the last few years,” said Mr Andrew Phua, Director Exhibitions & Conferences, STB, in his opening address. “However, the sporting success of a country goes beyond such achievements. We need to also develop the actual businesses that help fuel the sporting ecosystem, and provide platforms for the sports industry to grow further. To this end, STB aims to grow a steady pipeline of quality sports-related business events that can act as thought-leadership platforms for members of the industry to exchange insights and best practices.”

In her keynote, Ms Helen Soulsby, Director, Asia, Sports Recruitment International highlighted that “unlike Europe and North America, where sports business is dominated by clubs and teams thanks to advanced sports leagues, sports business in Asia is driven by rights holders entering the market selling media and sponsorship rights, media and content related companies as well as the agencies that support and drive such activity.”

The panel, moderated by Mr Adam Hodge, Regional Strategy Director, Octagon, comprised Mr Andrew Georgiou, CEO, World Sport Group; Ms Kow Ree Na, Director, Consumer Businesses & Lifestyle Programme Office, The Singapore Economic Development Board; Mr Kiyoshi Tatani, President, Mizuno Singapore; and Mr Victor Cui, CEO, ONE Fighting Championship. During the discussion, there was unanimous agreement on the steady buzz of activity in the sports business landscape over the past few years across Asia, including Singapore.

“Singapore is a business hub located in the midst of a growing region of consumer demand,” said Ms Kow Ree Na. “In the recent few years, top international sports companies such as Adidas, IMG, Mizuno, Nike, Octagon, Shimano, and World Sport Group, have grown their presence in Singapore to drive regional strategy, manage operations and access the large Asian consumer base.”

“For us, Singapore is a good location in terms of accessibility, enabling us to easily reach out to the rest of the ASEAN market,” shared Mr Kiyoshi Tatani. “While Singapore provides a multinational perspective, we can also still get a sense of what works, from an Asian perspective.”

Over and above establishing a presence in Asia, sports businesses also recognise the benefits of identifying the right content to engage Asian audiences. Mr Victor Cui spoke on this point at length, highlighting the importance of reaching out and making a connection with consumers. “You have to be sure that you’re creating compelling content. It doesn’t matter what the sport is, so long as it is relevant.”

Mr Andrew Georgiou also pointed out that brands should not look at sponsorships as the end of a process. In fact, “the decision to sponsor is really a decision about whether a particular sport can help reach key audiences, and subsequently accessing and engaging with those audiences to meet the brand’s objectives.”

“Ultimately, sport is a business, a platform, a medium through which we engage with audiences.”

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