Infront and Chinese Basketball Association renew to secure future growth of CBA League until 2017

Biggest commercial partnership in Chinese sports history to continue its success story

Beijing, China – Infront Sports & Media and the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) have reached an agreement to extend their current partnership by a further five years. As the exclusive commercial partner for the CBA League worldwide, Infront’s role is in-depth and involves every aspect – from commercially developing the CBA League to global sponsorship sales. In addition, Infront handles the media rights for all league games, with the aim of further raising national and international awareness of Chinese basketball. The extension of the agreement ensures that Infront’s successful dual prong approach of handling both, the CBA League and Team China, will be continued – helping to build up and develop Chinese basketball to its maximum potential.

Supporting the growth and market value of the CBA

The new agreement between the CBA and the international sports marketing company is an extension of the previous seven year contract, which was originally granted in 2005. The partnership, which covers all commercial rights of the CBA League, has proven to be the catalyst to realising the full potential of the vibrant league.

Infront has not only introduced a professional media and marketing concept, but also helped to enhance the branding of the CBA Professional League. Thanks to its in-depth role – Infront was able to initiate upgrades across the board – improved television production quality and distribution, intensified promotional activities and the development of a digital media platform.

As a result, the CBA League has developed into a high value sports communications platform that has grown impressively and consistently season upon season in terms of media reach, fan support, sponsor commitment and foreign player appeal.

Major global brands secured

With its huge popularity, the CBA League offers the strongest and most effective domestic sponsorship programme in China.  Between 2005/06 and 2011/12, the total number of league sponsors has tripled – from nine to 27. This development went along with a growing demand by international sponsors keen to access the growth market of China. Major global brands secured by Infront include: Nike, UPS, Tissot and Konica Minolta. Each sponsor benefits from the unique activation opportunities with many also making use of the synergy offered by Infront’s simultaneous relationship with Team China Basketball – a partnership that was also extended by a further eight year commitment in 2011.

Cumulative audience more than doubled

The increased commercial appeal was due to an enhanced marketing concept as well as a significant 130 per cent growth in the cumulative audience (up to 725 million in 2011/12). In addition, an international breakthrough for the platform was reached in 2011, when Infront signed a broadcasting agreement with One World Sport to deliver the CBA regular games to North America for the first time.

Infront was also a key driver in creating major event highlights throughout the regular season in order to further boost the league and its top stars. Infront China has helped to transform the CBA All Star Game into the most professionally managed and most popular single sports event in China. In 2010, it was transferred to the MasterCard Center (former Olympic Wukesong Arena) in Beijing, providing unparalleled capacities for a basketball audience. Furthermore, Infront has increased promotional and communications efforts to spur on excitement leading up to the event. A similar approach has been followed for the CBA finals in the 2011/12 season. The game between Beijing and Guangdong was also played at the MasterCard Center and broke both spectator and TV rating records.

Paving the way for future growth

In the new five year term, Infront will – together with the CBA – continue to develop the professional media and marketing concept of the League to correspond with the up to date market needs. Television production quality and distribution will be further optimised, whilst there will also be a constant focus on enhancing the digital media platform. Infront will work closely with the Association and sponsors to reinforce the positive image of the CBA League and to strengthen its position as a top sports league in Asia. By providing comprehensive sponsor services and implementing state-of-the-art advertising solutions, Infront aims for a continued growth of the league's commercial value. One of the key priorities remains to raise the global appeal of the CBA League - as a gateway for international brands to be associated with a Chinese top sport.

The right partner to continue on the successful path

Xin Lancheng, Vice President of CBA said: “Over the past seven years, the CBA League has made significant progress across the board – in terms of the sportive performance, the commercial value and the social impact. Infront has been a key partner in this process and shares the association’s vision regarding the long-term development of the league. We are looking forward to partnering with Infront for the next five years and to further enhancing the league’s profile as well as repaying the fans, society and commercial partners for their consistent support.”

Philippe Blatter, Infront’s President & CEO, said: “We are proud of the extension to our successful partnership with the CBA for both, Team China and now also the CBA League. China is a key market for sport and the Infront Group will, in partnership with the CBA, continue to develop and deliver superior value to its key properties for the ultimate benefit of the sport, the clubs, the players, the partners and the fans. With our international expertise and local know-how, we will also continue to pave the way for strong national and international partners to take advantage of an association with China’s top sport.”

Ma Guoli, Managing Director Infront China, stated that the renewal is of high importance: “Based on the joint work of the CBA and all its partners, the league has gone from strength to strength in recent years – witnessed by the growing number of fans across the country and beyond. It has underlined its status as China’s most popular professional sports league in terms of both, marketing value and media reach. For the future, we will continue to constantly review the commercial appeal of the platform across China and beyond and to jointly exploit the league’s increasing potential in terms of sponsorship and broadcast coverage.”