Growing since 2004

The Chinese Super League is the top tier football competition in China and was founded in 2004. Since its inception the CSL has grown from 12 teams to 16 teams and has seen 31 Chinese clubs compete in the league since 2004. The CSL is one of the most popular professional sports leagues in China, with an average attendance of 24, 107 for league matches in the 2018/19 season. This is the sixth highest of any professional football league in the world, behind the Bundesliga, English Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and Liga MX. Last season the CSL saw strong streaming numbers with IMG ARENA, as can be seen below. 

Strong financial backing for the league and some big-name signings, have seen interest in the CSL spike further in recent years. The added announcement that last season's champions, Guangzhou Evergrande are to commence building the world's largest football stadium further underlines the league's vision and strategy for growth. 


The Chinese Super League is an excellent illustration in the value of leagues that run while the major European Leagues are on summer break. Football fans around the world look to the CSL to fill the content void left by other leagues enjoying their summer break. 

Providing 24/7/365 content is essential for an operator's streaming portfolio and the ability of the Chinese Super League to engage football fans during the summer months is invaluable in achieving this goal. Our streaming numbers show that during the months of June, July and August the CSL saw a 45.3% increase in unique viewers, compared to the previous three months. With a dearth of top European action during the summer, football fans around the world look to China in order to satisfy their appetite for elite football. 

During 2019, The CSL had a 5.2% share of total views
in the IMG ARENA football streaming portfolio. 

However, during the months of June and July, this figure rose to 19%. The value of having a major football league during the crucial summer months cannot be overstated and operators rely on leagues such as the CSL and MLS to keep bettors engaged. 


However, it is not just in the summer that the Chinese Super League provides a valuable content boost. It plays an important role in appealing to viewers from all corners of the world. The quality of the league means that the content engages users across multiple timezones. Starting after Oceanic leagues and before European leagues, the CSL has a unique slot in the world football order of play and as such it receives greater attention than a league that overlaps with the major leagues on other continents. The strong streaming numbers of the CSL reflect the desire of fans to have 'always-on' football content. 

Below depicts an example day of IMG ARENA football content and how the CSL uniquely fits into this schedule perfectly for operators across the globe. 


The Chinese Super League is unique in the fact that the number of foreign players on each team is restricted, bringing a very interesting angle to the league. Each team is allowed four foreign players in their squad and only three on the pitch at any one time. Finding out which overseas players will be joining the league, has become a vital and thrillig part of the CSL season. The big names that now pay in the league are driving streaming growth for the teams that they play for. 

The market for players is competitive, with major overseas signings receiving huge contracts. The four most highly valued players in the league this season are Oscar, Mark Arnautovic, Paulinho and Talisca. These four players all played last season for either Shanghai SPG (Oscar & Arnautovic) or Guangzhou Evergrande (Paulinho & Talisca). What is clear is that the high profiles of these players are driving streaming engagement for the respective clubs they play for. Guangzhou Evergrane and Shanghai SPG were the two most-watched clubs in the CSL by both total views and unique views in 2019. It will be interesting to see which stars in 2020 will drive engagement for their clubs when the league restarts. 


The Chinese Super League has a strong South American influence. During the 2019 season, nearly half of the overseas players came from the region and this has had a very positive effect on the league's following from South American countries. Brazilian players have had a major impact on the league's progression, with star players such as Hulk, Oscar, Paulinho, Ramires, Pato and Miranda to name a few all playing in recent seasons. The South American interest in China looks set to increase further as the CSL continues to coax some of the continent's biggest stars away from their own leagues and into the big money of the Chinese Super League. 

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