The Next Hotbed in Sports: Asia

Some of the biggest companies in the world will come out of Asia in the next decade…


It’s simple — they have the most people.

60% of the world’s population is in Asia (and they’re finally catching up on consumer trends and sports monetization).

Big growth lies ahead!

Let’s Dive In 👇

Background On Asia & Sports

Asia is the growth engine of the world’s consumption, which has led to the rapid acceleration of its sports industry.

The consumption numbers are staggering…

Asia offers a $10 trillion consumption growth opportunity over the next decade (McKinsey).

And Asia is home to some of the world’s biggest economies (GDP):

  • China (2nd)
  • Japan (3rd)
  • India (6th)
  • South Korea (10th)
  • Indonesia (15th)

50% of the world’s consumer class is located in Asia.

asia has fastest growing consumer markets
Infographics via Asia Sports Tech

The significant growth in Asia’s sports markets is driven by 3 major things:

  1. increasing investment
  2. breakthrough innovation
  3. social and demographic change

This includes leagues, teams, startups, corporate, IPs, brands, and investors seeking sustainable growth and monetization opportunities.

Fandom Is Being Monetized

Asia has become a crucial destination for global sporting events.

But more importantly…

Home-grown professional Asian sports leagues are gaining popularity and status on the global stage.

Cricket in India is the perfect example. The Indian Premier League (IPL) is now one of the highest-valued sports leagues in the world:

ipl teams valuation

The birth of sports-related startups is helping to fuel the growth as well…

Fantasy sports users in India went from 2 million ➔ 150 million in less than 5 years.

And several major sporting events have been hosted in Asia since 2018:

  • 3 Olympics (Beijing, Tokyo, Pyeongchang)
  • 2 FIBA World Cups
  • Rugby World Cup

Governments are investing significantly in sports infrastructure and creating programs to ensure their populations lead healthy active lifestyles.

Asian Sports Stars

More and more Asian athletes are making it to the global stage…

  • 🇰🇷 Son Heung-Min, Tottenham Hotspurs
  • 🇯🇵 Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
  • 🇰🇷 Jin Young Ko, LPGA golfer
asian sports stars

The rise of “local heroes” helps inspire younger generations (and fuels their love for sports).

And with so many people, sports stars in Asia are finally starting to capitalize on their social media stardom.

Indian cricket player Virat Kohli is one of the most-followed athletes in the world (249 million Instagram followers).

Asia Sports Investing Scene

Several sports tech unicorns have emerged in Asia over the last few years.

asia sports tech unicorns
*a unicorn is a private company valued at over $1 billion (data is slightly outdated)

By 2025, the Asia-Pacific sports technology market is projected to reach US$10.8 billion in value.

As the leagues and teams become more valuable in Asia…

The need for startups to support their infrastructure continues to grow.

Young Population + Gaming Drives Growth

Asia features a large youth population that is connected through 4G and 5G mobile devices.

As a result…

Esports has exploded in popularity (especially mobile games).

global gaming market size

The 2022 MLBB SEA Cup in Malaysia attracted a peak viewership of 2.8 million fans.

Asia also offers immense opportunities for Web3 businesses, as play-to-earn platforms continue to take off.

3 Waves of Asian Sports Innovation

Asia has gone through two major waves of innovation, and we’re currently entering the third phase.

Wave 1: Media Building

This was centered around building out the sports media ecosystem.

A large number of international teams and leagues came over to Asia to show off their product and grow the audience.

Wave 2: Team Ownership

Bringing in Western money and ideas to grow Asian-grown leagues/teams.

shanghai sharks

And now money is flowing out of the region into other places.

For example, Indian Premier League owners buy stakes in US teams and US owners buy stakes in Indian Premier League teams.

Wave 3: Digital Revolution

The rise of internet connection, smartphones, and the middle class is spurring Asia into this third wave.

10/20 countries with the most smartphone users are in Asia.

This is fueling consumption (and helping sports garner a stronger foothold).

Where’s Asia Sports Headed?

Asia has become a hub of innovation over the last decade.

The region is perfectly poised for growth across all verticals of sports, esports, and fitness.

Some of the biggest opportunities are available in China and India.

However — Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Oceania region all offer their own unique competitive advantage.

The opportunities of Asia’s sports ecosystem cannot be ignored:

  • increasing capital inflow
  • more players entering the market
  • micro and macro factors moving up the sports value chain

Exciting times ahead 🥂

Asia Sports Tech

This was a high-level overview of Asia from my discussion with Loron Orris and research from his Asia Sports Tech insights newsletter. Infographics were provided by them.

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